Image courtesy of Basket Streaming's Flickr page - Scottie Pippen, il "secondo violino" di Michael Jordan nei grandi Chicago Bulls, compie: https://www.flickr.com/photos/basketstreaming/21081246423/in/photolist-64qGTi-6ejJHa-yxgYMD-4vsrxV-8R9Mfp-o2g7AP-8schUi-8s97C4-8dUQpf-6ejJdD-7GbUic-74arz4-4odU5p-7GfR3h-y7SU6V
Image courtesy of Erik Drost's Flickr page - Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88/18712418510/in/photolist-uvy36m-uKQ6xG-tRgUTP-uvtpVm-uKQmv7-uvGFwB-uMFFeG-uNpE1e-tBehBy-uN3P3D-tR2Qho-HUSfr-4Taf5q-uvASzv-7vAzf2-qHUK2k-r52g6V-6K6Fki-bgddQ6-4G4nGd-r4UoZy-7NjrkD-9nssXS-rmt3kn-JgQiv-uoEiQf-djFciv-rmokYq-r4Ujq3-7hGokn-4iSMB3-bgdChx-47g67u-qKt9Fn-qKuV8z-qKt9yP-qKt9Ea-3pYanc-4C12US-uvyAju-uvyCCs-buWvMB-3q3GXA-eedDRY-7NopXJ-6r3FD-6r3uV-3pYaeB-dZTukn-dZTkBK
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Now, I don't know about this!
A lot of people, including some older basketball players from the 1980's and 1990's, are saying that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, the team that finished with a record 72-10 regular season mark and then went on to win the NBA title, thus cementing their generally accepted status as greatest team of all time, would beat this Golden State Warriors team.
Truth be told, I actually believe that, too. Those Bulls were almost unbeatable, and could beat different opponents in different ways. They could beat you in a shootout, but they could also play a very physical game against a tough opponent and also win - convincingly!
That is not something that, in my heart of hearts, I believe about this Golden State Warriors team. If a team manages to get them off of their game, they will give themselves a chance to win.
Twenty years ago with the Bulls, that simply was not an option. If you played a physical game, and perhaps limited Jordan to pedestrian numbers, you still had to worry about Scottie Pippen or Toni Kukoc getting hot. You still had to worry about their physical style of play, as their defense could really cut opponents down to size, as well. And when you mix the potential for explosiveness on that offense with the tough and physical style of defense, what you get is a virtually unbeatable combo.
Golden State, by contrast, is an offensive machine. For the most part, they have forced teams to play their style of basketball, which is to overwhelm opponents with their offensive talent. Opposing defenses have too many threats to defend, and far too often, they just cannot do it. Simply put, there are no good or sure ways to defend the Warriors, because they have too threats. Stephen Curry can get hot from downtown, and he is not the only one on that team who can do that, although he is surely the best. So, if you double team him, then he can pass to the open man for an easy score that is incredibly demoralizing for the defense, and this happens time and time again.
Yes, the Warriors are amazing, and this is the style of play that has carried them so far this season to the cusp of basketball immortality.
Still, the questions that arise from this are obvious: what if someone takes away that great attack. Or, however unlikely the possibililty may seem, what if the Warriors simply have a subpar game on offense? It might seem a stretch, but consider this: the one and only game that I went and saw this year featured those Warriors against the league's worst team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and Philly almost won. The Warriors had got cold on offense a little bit in the first half, and then caught fire. But in the second half, particularly in the third quarter, they were downright stagnant, and their defense was not up to the task of protecting what seemed like a comfortable 20+ point lead.
As intense as the Warriors offensive talent and approach has been, and as much as it might change the game, their seeming lack of physical presence - particularly on the defensive side - still causes a lot of people to be suspicious of just how dominant they are.
Last season, the Warriors were dominant, as well. Maybe they did not look quite as good as they are looking right now, but consider that they finished 67-15 during the regular season. But in the NBA playoffs, they won 16 games, which means that they won the NBA title, but they also lost five games. That is an impressive winning percentage, but not one that suggests a historical level of dominance.
Still, they are the champions. Also, they are on fire this season, and have been all season.
But does that mean that they rank as the best of all time, or warrant that kind of discussion? And would they beat those 1996 Chicago Bulls?
Not even close, says Scottie Pippen. And he does not beat around the bush in his assessment, either. Does not give them credit, but says his Bulls likely would win. In fact, in a best of seven series, Pippen believes that those Bulls would sweep these Warriors.
And he is not alone in that assessment. Charles Barkley has said that these Warriors do not hold a match to those Bulls, and would get crushed.
The old versus the new. Interesting, is it not?
Scottie Pippen says 1995-96 Bulls would sweep Warriors by ESPN.com news services, April 3, 2016: