Bulls set to tip off season against Cavs

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Derrick Rose and the Bulls will tip off the 2015-16 season Tuesday night against the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. (File photo.)

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls open their season Tuesday night against a familiar foe whom they hope to dethrone in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m. central from the United Center. Cleveland comes to town as the defending Eastern Conference champions after a 53-win regular season last year and a trip to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

The Bulls finished third in the conference in 2013-14, eventually losing to the Cavaliers in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But the Bulls are set to open a new era under coach Fred Hoiberg with Derrick Rose in the lineup. Hoiberg was named the Bulls coach in June after the team parted ways with Tom Thibodeau.

The hiring of Hoiberg indicates a switch in philosophy for the Bulls. The former Iowa State head coach is known for his up-tempo offenses.

Rose is set to start without any minute restrictions. Hoiberg says the Bulls will still be careful with Rose’s playing time given that he missed most of the preseason with an injury he suffered on the first day of practice.

Rose had surgery to repair a broken left orbital and missed the first seven preseason games. But he also showed that familiar explosiveness in his lone exhibition against Dallas on Friday.

Rose, who has been wearing a protective mask, still has some blurred vision and swelling beneath his left eye.

The Bulls won 50 games in 2014-15 with Rose missing 31. This season Chicago hopes its star can play a full season — and finally get past its conference nemesis.

They’ll take the first step Tuesday night. President Obama, who is in town to address police chiefs at McCormick Place, is expected to be in attendance.

The Associated Press and Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

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