The Miami Heat will get their rings for their second consecutive championship on Oct. 29 against the Chicago Bulls, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- but a Chicago team likely featuring Derrick Rose for the first time in a year and a half will try to spoil their celebration.
Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel reports that two of the marquee dates on Miami's calendar have been decided: they'll play Chicago opening night, as the league likes to feature the defending champion in a primetime slot for the first game of the new season, and they'll play against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas,
Both matchups have a bit of history. The Bulls, then led by Ben Wallace, were the Heat's opponents on opening night as they got their rings for their first NBA title in 2006 but ruined the evening by destroying Miami, 108-66. And the Heat-Lakers matchup was a staple of Christmases during the mid-2000s, as it pitted Kobe Bryant against his old teammate, Shaquille O'Neal.
Obviously, both situations are different. Rose is expected to play normal minutes this season after taking all last year off to recover from a knee injury, while the Lakers, now without Dwight Howard, will probably be getting Bryant back from his Achilles injury around the holidays after the 34-year-old targeted November or December as a return date. The Bulls will be hoping to get back at the Heat after being eliminated in a chippy 4-1 second-round series, with Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler guiding Chicago to one surprise victory in the opener before being dominated for the rest of the series.
The Heat have played five straight years on Christmas. Last year's season-opener for Miami came against the Boston Celtics, who they beat 120-107.