Earlier today, I watched Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks. The Knicks won 96-91,taking a 2-0 advantage in the series. Of course, they would lose the next four games, but things were looking good at this point, at least. This is the game where John Starks dunked on Michael Jordan late in the 4th quarter (Although really, Starks dunked on Horace Grant, Jordan just happened to be in the vicinity at the time). A few thoughts in no particular order.
- The game was pretty even in the first half. Jordan had 25 points in the half on 7-16 shooting, but he was having trouble finding good shots. Scottie Pippen played well, and the other Chicago Bulls hardly put up any shots. The game turned the Knicks' direction in the third, as Starks got on a mini hot-streak and Chicago couldn't buy a shot for about five minutes. The Knicks held a double-digit lead for most of the second half, but the Bulls did come back and make a game out of it, and if Bill Cartwright shot better than 1-4 from the free throw line in the final minute, the game might have turned out differently.
- Doc Rivers was very effective in this game, scoring 21 points, getting to the free throw line 10 times (making 8) and was the main defender on Michael Jordan for much of the game, until he was victimized by a leg cramp. Rivers guarded Jordan more than Starks or Anthony Mason did, and was a large part of Michael's 12-32 shooting from the field. I guess I've forgotten since Rivers is now coaching the Celtics, but make no mistake, Doc Rivers was a heck of player.
- Will Perdue and Stacy King, however, weren't very good. Perdue was especially ineffective in this game. In fact, the whole Chicago frontcourt struggled. Bill Cartwright didn't play particularly well, Horace Grant had a bum ankle, and played like it (2 pts, 2 reb). The only somewhat effective big man in this game for Chicago was Scott Williams, and he fouled out in the fourth quarter as the Bulls were trying to make a comeback.
- Charles Oakley was a demon on the boards, grabbing 16 rebounds and shutting down Grant for the whole game. Oakley also hit two big free throws in the final seconds to ice the game for good, and skying up for a key rebound towards the end as well, which astonished Marv Albert and the other guy doing commentary on the MSG network. Just another day at the office for Oakley.
- Patrick Ewing played well, but one thing I did notice was that he did not challenge the Bulls centers enough on offense. Instead of posting up and backing down on guys like Will Perdue, Ewing would too often settle for a fade away jumper. Considering the ineffectiveness of the Bulls front court, Ewing should have dominated this game, and, although he played well (26 pts, 10 reb, 11-25 from the field), he failed to impose his will. However, the Knicks won, so I guess he did fine.
- There were six technicals in this game, all of them called by Bill Oakes. Quite a few of them were rather fishy. The biggest two occurred in the fourth quarter, when Oakes ejected Scottie Pippen for throwing the ball at him. Marv Albert and the other guy questioned the call, saying Oakes has a reputation for a short fuse. Seeing him in action, I would have to agree. It was a stupid move on Pippen's part, however. Up until this point, Pippen was the most effective player on the court for Chicago, so obviously his loss was major. Then again, as soon as Pippen left, the Bulls went on a 12-2 run and got within 4 points, so you never know with these things.
- Not to be outdone, Greg Anthony committed a really dumb foul on Jordan with about 4 minutes to go in the fourth. As Jordan drove to the basket, Anthony just threw himself at Jordan, hoping to knock him on his ass, I guess. It was clearly a flagrant foul, and Anthony was ejected. What made things worse was that Rivers had just left the game with leg cramps, and so, because of Anthony's stupidity, and because the Knicks didn't have a third point guard (unless you count seldom used rookie Hubert Davis), Rivers had to hobble around the court on one good leg for the rest of the game. Just a dirty play by Anthony, no wonder everybody hated the Knicks during this time period.
- Charles Smith looked shaky throughout, turning the ball over a few times. Let's just say after watching him in Game 2, it's no surprise he couldn't put up a layup in the final seconds of Game 5.
- Trent Tucker and Rodney McCray played for the Bulls. Tucker even hit a wide open three. I had forgotten they even played on the Bulls.
- After watching this game, the Bulls looked vulnerable. Grant was banged up, and the rest of their frontcourt couldn't match up with Ewing, Oakley, and Anthony Mason. John Paxson was a huge defensive liability. Jordan was getting banged around by Starks and Rivers, and the Knicks were a deep team that wasn't afraid to bang. Plus, after this game, the Knicks extended their home winning streak to 26 games. I was reading some articles on the game on the Google News Archive, and the consensus seemed to be that the Bulls' run was over, and that the Knicks would go on to face the Suns (or the Sonics, although most people thought Phoenix would win out), in the finals. Of course, all that did was piss Jordan off, he got hot, and the rest is history. But the point is, it wasn't inconceivable at this point that the Knicks would run the Bulls over on their way to the title. In my opinion, this team was a little better then the '94 Knicks that went to the finals.
- At the very least, a Knicks-Suns final would be very interesting, although I'd have to give the Knicks an advantage because there is no way Oliver Miller and Mark West could stop Ewing, while Oakley and Mason would eventually wear down Charles Barkley. The Suns would have the advantage in the backcourt, as Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle were better than Rivers and Starks. The Suns were a deeper team with Danny Ainge and Tom Chambers coming off the bench, and the Suns had a slight advantage at small forward (Richard Dumas/Cedric Ceballos-Charles Smith/Mason). But, ultimately, the Suns would have no answer for Ewing, even if were to settle for fadeaway jumpers too much. I think the Knicks would win the hypothetical Finals in six.
Well, I think I wrote too much about a game that happened 17 years ago, and a lot of it is just rambling. Oh well. I forgot to mention that Jerry Seinfeld was at the game, and they had an interview with him and Seinfeld made a couple of jokes I don't remember. So, there's that. It was interesting to see a big game where Jordan came up short, and Bill Oakes giving a technical to anyone that looked at him funny. Next time I do this, I won't wait 10 hours until writing something, so there's that to look forward to.