I can picture it now: Klay Thompson trying to slow down Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen attempting to contain Kevin Durant, the 1995-1996 Bulls, winners of 72 games and an NBA title, squaring off with the best roster in NBA history, the 2016-2017 Warriors.
The obvious question is which rules would the game be played under, current, or from the 90s? I’m with Las Vegas – I think the Warriors win this series. Too much talent, too many shooters.
When Golden State goes to the death lineup, how can those Bulls match them? This is what the crunch time match ups would look like. Center and small forward are a wash; the Warriors win the others, 2-1.
Dennis Rodman vs Draymond Green
Scottie Pippen vs Kevin Durant
Tony Kukoc vs Andre Iguodala
Michael Jordan vs Klay Thompson
Ron Harper vs Stephen Curry
The Bulls have much more balance than LeBron’s Cavs do, but a major issue remains: Age. That Warriors crunch time lineup has one player over the age of 30 (Iguodala).
The Bulls have four. Rodman was 34, Jordan was 32, Harper was 32, and Pippen was 30. In a 7-game series, Golden State’s bench is far more talented. And remember, Chicago’s offense revolved around Jordan. He averaged 30.4 ppg; the only two other players in double figures in the regular season were Pippen (19.4) and Kukoc (13.1).
Why does age matter? Pace. Those Bulls only topped 100 twice in the 1996 NBA Finals against Seattle, and they were held to 86 in a Game 4 loss, 78 in a Game 5 loss, and only scored 87 in the clincher.
The league is significantly different now, from pace to three-pointers. The Warriors have three players who could go for 25+ on any given night. The Bulls had, reliably, one. For the season, the Bulls entire team made 544 three-pointers; Curry and Thompson alone made more than that this year (592).
Pippen, for instance, scored over 25 points once in the 1995-1996 playoffs. He only averaged 20+ points four times in his career in the regular season – and in two of those years, Michael Jordan was playing baseball, so he had to carry the scoring load.
Klay Thompson has averaged 20+ points the last three years, and he’s just entering his prime.
I’d take the Warriors, 4-1.