Bulls would obliterate Warriors in 7-game series
The rather interesting-yet-hypothetical ’15-‘16 Golden State Warriors and ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls matchup has generated an intriguing exchange of ideas among countless sports fans, analysts and aficionados for quite a while.
Without question, this season’s Golden State Warriors – the ‘golden standard’ for modern basketball teams – should be considered among the greats in the history of the National Basketball Association for the numerous landmark accomplishments they’ve accrued over the past few seasons.
Besides capturing the 2015 NBA Finals trophy in six games over the undermanned, LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, some of this year’s achievements for the Warriors include: a 73-win season; becoming the first team in league history to open a season with 24 straight wins; the first to win 34 games on the road; being the first to endure the entire season without losing to the same team twice; becoming the first team in NBA history to make 1,000 3-pointers in a season; and being the first franchise to avoid losing consecutive games to the same team in one season.
In addition, the Warriors – led by guard Stephen Curry who shattered his own record by drilling over 400 3-pointers this season – have seemingly left the world in awe, as they continue to break records and set statistical precedents as the days go.
Comparatively, the ’95-’96 Bulls had already won a 3-peat in 1991-1993, were on their way to capturing another 3-peat and were beginning to establish themselves as the NBA dynasty of the ‘90s.
Also, the Bulls had the best known basketball player to ever touch the hardwood in Michael Jordan, a top-five small forward in Scottie Pip-pen and the Hall of Fame hustler – none other than Dennis Rodman. And we can’t forget the smooth-stroking lefty, Toni Kukoc, and lockdown defender Ron Harper who could finish in transition as well.
Statistically, the Bulls and the Warriors are virtually head-to-head in most categories. Though the Warriors averaged more points per game (because they had more possessions), they beat their opponents by 10.6 points as opposed to the Bulls outscor-ing their opponents by 12.2 points per contest. And when the Bulls lost, they lost by slimmer margins on average. The Warriors did have a slight shooting edge over the Bulls, but couldn’t rebound or defend as well as the Bulls.
As outlandish as Charles Barkley sounds at times, he said on ESPN Radio’s Waddle & Silvy show when asked about the matchup, “Ah man, you’re kiddin’ me right? That Bulls team would kill this little team [Warriors]. C’mon man…”
Similarly, Pippen said in an interview that his squad would sweep the Warriors and Harper said in a tweet that Golden State wouldn’t stand a chance against his Bulls, with which I fully concur.
The Warriors’ small ball approach has been effective in a league that’s weak at the center position, and believes in taking the open 3 before a lay-up or mid-range jumper. However, the Bulls’ size, strength and length would simply overwhelm the Warriors.
If we take the Warriors out of this era and place them in Jordan’s era, it would be laughable. The rules allowed players to play more competitively (the hand checking, elbowing, etc.); which to me means the Bulls would obliterate the Warriors so terribly that the officials may end the series after two or three games. The physicality, length and tenacity of Jordan, Pippen, Harper and Rodman would simply be too much for a team who’s used to a free-flowing style of play.
Conversely, if we were to place the Bulls in this era, the outcome wouldn’t be significantly different; Jordan’s scoring average would be somewhere in the mid-40s because he wouldn’t have to work as hard to score. MJ and Scottie would most likely guard and shut down the Splash Brothers, and the well-respected Draymond Green certainly wouldn’t put up the same numbers against the monstrous Rodman.
Based on these factors alone, the Bulls would essentially handicap the Warriors in a seven-game series and take the O’Brien trophy in four games. The Warriors, who are slightly overrated, are nevertheless a well-rounded and selfless team, but I highly doubt they would endure the offensive and (especially) defensive prowess of the six-time NBA champs.
Furthermore, the coaching matchup is no contest. Phil Jackson, arguably the best NBA coach of all time would be up against one his former players – Steve Kerr – a man who is inheriting the credit for Mark Jackson, who revitalized the Golden State franchise.
No disrespect to the Warriors, because they will be talked about by sports pundits decades from now. Nonetheless, I’m sure they’d do well at selling tickets and team paraphernalia, and that’s about it.
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