Leading into episode 9 of The Last Dance, Reggie Miller claims he thought the 1997-1998 Pacers were going to send Jordan into retirement because Indiana was the better team. The Pacers were one of only 3 teams to ever take Michael Jordan's Bulls into a must win Game 7 (Pistons-L, Knicks-W, Pacers-W)
Is Reggie right? The Pacer's Roster was talented, and the Bulls Dynasty was older. Could the Pacers actually have been better than the Bulls?
Starters: Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Chris Mullen, Rick Smits, Dale Davis
Bench: Antonio Davis, Travis Best, Jalen Rose, Derrick McKey
We can start with Game 4, The Bulls were up 2-1 on the Pacers with the home team winning every match-up. If the Bulls wanted to end the series early to rest for the Utah Jazz ( who swept the Lakers, and were waiting on a winner to come out of the east) they'd need to beat the Pacers in Indiana.
With 4.7 seconds left in the 4th - Scottie Pippen needs to his 2 free throws to ensure the Bull's overtime if the Pacer's hit a 3 ...
Pippen misses both. Pacers get the ball back. Reggie gets the inbounds pass with the biggest shove, and one of the biggest shots of his career. Winning the game 96-94, tying the series 2-2, and ultimately forcing a Game 7.
This is Larry Bird's reaction to Reggie Miller's game winning shot. I've even seen Belichick smile and cheer on the sidelines, but for Larry Legend to feel NOTHING during his first Eastern Conference Finals as a coach for is home state is NEXT LEVEL not giving a fuck.
The Bulls were in full control for most of the game. If you ask Mark Jackson who he sees in his nightmares, it's not Freddy Kruger, its Scottie Pippen moving with him ever step of the way as Jackson brings the ball up court in the ECF.
MJ was older, but as the ultimate floor general. Jordan scored 28 pts without driving and getting to the line, Jordan scored by finding his spots on the floor and hitting jumpers.
The difference maker in Game 4 ultimately was the Bulls didn't have a H
ulk Smits. Nobody on the Bulls could match-up with the 7'4" Dunkin Dutchman. The problem was, if Smits got into foul trouble, the Pacers offense struggled to score.
Were the Pacers the better team? May 24, 1998* they were, but the series still had 3 games to go. Tomorrow I'll review game 5.
* This is the day of the Indianapolis 500 AND the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bulls Dynasty 182 miles North. This is a massive day in Indianapolis.