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Most Dominant Playoff Tournament: Final Four

Posted by Neil Paine on April 6, 2010

Most Dominant Playoff Tournament: Round 4

Results from the Tournament's Final Four, courtesy of WhatIfSports (click on series links for game-by-game box scores):

Pool D #3 '09 Lakers vs. Pool A #9 '05 Spurs
Game 1: 09LAL 92, 05SAS 86
Game 2: 05SAS 104, 09LAL 98
Game 3: 05SAS 89, 09LAL 87
Game 4: 05SAS 88, 09LAL 87
Game 5: 05SAS 108, 09LAL 93
(2005 Spurs Win Series 4-1)

Pool C #1 '96 Bulls vs. Pool B #5 '93 Bulls
Game 1: 96CHI 117, 93CHI 100
Game 2: 96CHI 120, 93CHI 106
Game 3: 93CHI 97, 96CHI 86
Game 4: 93CHI 102, 96CHI 91
Game 5: 93CHI 95, 96CHI 93
Game 6: 96CHI 95, 93CHI 80
Game 7: 93CHI 103, 96CHI 96
(1993 Bulls Win Series 4-3)

16 Responses to “Most Dominant Playoff Tournament: Final Four”

  1. Jason J Says:

    It's the Bruce Almighty (Bowen that is) tournament. Shuts down Magic and Kobe back to back. All he needs to do is repeat the performance against Michael, and a team that barely managed to beat the 2005 Piston thanks to an Horry miracle, will take the crown. It's a Cinderella story!

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    They're the Butler of this tournament.

  3. Jeremiah Says:

    I have enjoyed these posts, but I get the feeling that WhatIfSports has a severe timeline adjustment in favor of recent teams.

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    It does seem really severe. As I was simming these games, it felt like the Russell-era Celtics had literally no chance of beating a team like the 06 Heat in a 7-game series, which feels very wrong. Perhaps the game has changed so much since then that a team like the 06 Heat would crush the 62 Celts (actually, the level of athleticism and size that today's teams have vs. the older teams is probably so dramatic that we would be shocked at how badly older teams perform), but I haven't seen the evidence yet. I'd like to look at timeline adjustments sometime this summer, truth be told.

  5. Jason J Says:

    I think for the old teams to compete, the players would need to be given all the advantages today's players have - training, nutrition, the example of the older players to learn from, etc. Of course that would create some kind of self-referential timeloop in which Elgin Baylor learned moves growing up watching Michael Jordan who learned moves from growing up watching David Thompson who learned moves from growing up watching Elgin Baylor, and the entire universe would clearly implode. Nice job, Neil. Now the great slashing wingmen of history are trapped forever.

  6. sp6r=underrated Says:

    Does this factor in point differential? If so, the real stunner isn't the 05 Spurs (who were outscored their opponents better than the 83 76ers) its the 93 bulls.

  7. sp6r=underrated Says:

    I'm a big Duncan, so I'm gonna say something in the defense of the 05 team. They won a title with an injured Duncan (his ankle was hurt through out the playoffs), and had great point differential total with him missing 16 games. If he was healthy, that was a 65 win caliber team.

  8. Neil Paine Says:

    Right. It looks like less of an upset when 93 CHI beat 96 CHI than 05 SAS making it to the Final, because we think "Jordan, Pippen, Phil... yep, it was basically the same team, no upset there." But the 1996 Bulls were a force of nature, and the 1993 Bulls were a good but hardly dominant team -- they ranked 4th during the regular season in SRS behind Seattle, Cleveland, and Phoenix. That's right: if you believe point differential, the Bulls beating the Suns in the Finals was actually an upset, especially with Phoenix holding HCA. The 93 Bulls beating the 96 juggernaut version was truly a shocking upset.

  9. sp6r=underrated Says:

    It's the Bruce Almighty (Bowen that is) tournament. Shuts down Magic and Kobe back to back. All he needs to do is repeat the performance against Michael, and a team that barely managed to beat the 2005 Piston thanks to an Horry miracle, will take the crown. It's a Cinderella story!

    Uh, the 09 lakers got taken to a 7th game by the rockets w/o Yao and T-Mac. What makes them so great?

  10. sp6r=underrated Says:

    Sorry for double posting, this should have gone in the other post. If the mid-decade Spurs played in Boston or LA you wouldn't dare compare them to Butler. The top Spur team in point differential was as good as the best Showtime squad.

  11. Neil Paine Says:

    It was a joke because Jason said it was a "Cinderella Story"... I've been a big proponent of the Duncan-era Spurs over the years, because their SRS and Pyth% have always been strong.

  12. sp6r=underrated Says:

    OKAY, maybe I'm a little sensitive because of the Boston Globe writer who claimed Duncan wasn't top 20. lol.

  13. Ryan Says:

    1 of 2 scenarios are going to play out here. Either Bowen shuts Michael down (right after Bryant and Magic), and establishes himself as the GOAT perimeter defender... Or Michael goes buck wild, ala 1993 NBA Finals series.

    Seeing as no version of Michael has had a stratospheric sim yet, I'm bracing for a Spurs win.

  14. Travis Says:

    93 Jordan had 49 points in game 7 against the 2002 Lakers. 0 TOs, 16 of 26 from the field. That was after a 36, 10, 6, 1 TO to pull out a game 6 win, too. Kobe had 28 points on 41 shots in those two games. I'd say that counts for stratospheric level.

    The most fun Jordan, at least for pure stat nerd fantasy stuff, is the 87-88 version. Dude goes nuts against just about anybody. Not uncommon for him to rip out 7 steals, 4 blocks, and 45 points on a retarded FG% and 1 or 2 TOs.

    Also, just as it is in the NFL, the players in today's NBA are so much bigger and more athletic than their 50s/60s counterparts that it would really be unfair to pit two teams from those eras against each other without some sort of era-specific balancing magic.

  15. Travis Says:

    Little bit of clarity needed:

    It would be unfair to pit a team from today (2006 Heat, to use Neil's example) against a team from the 50s/60s. I somehow made it seem like it would be unfair to pit two teams from the 50s/60s against each other.

    Also, I still feel that the 96 Bulls' point differential was slightly inflated due to the NBA having two new franchises that debuted that season, making the 93 Bulls' upset slightly less improbable.

  16. Jason J Says:

    From a matchups standpoint, those Bulls teams are really interesting:

    Harper v. BJ – probably a wash in terms of ability at that point, but BJ’s shooting and pressure d is more valuable than Harper’s versatility.

    Jordan v. Jordan – 29 MJ was better than 33 MJ. The system might favor older MJ some because he could work out of the post more and spend less energy trying to score, but he would also be more susceptible to foul trouble because ’93 Jordan drove the hole more.

    Pippen v. Pippen – Total wash. Same basic skillset, same basic roll. ’93 may have been slightly quicker and ’96 slightly stronger, but basically Scottie’s prime was ’93 – ’96.

    Rodman v. Grant – This one is debatable, but I really think Horace’s ability to space the floor is a little more useful in this matchup than Rodman’s superior rebounding – mostly because Grant was also a good rebounder. With MJ ’93 driving and kicking, Grant’s ability to step away was handy. Of course with MJ ’96 drawing weakside help in the post Worm’s ability to gobble boards was a big deal too. Grant did tend to give higher minutes.

    Longley v. Cartwright – Luc was a much better fit for the triangle. Neither could catch, but at least Luc could pass and shoot. Both were tough defenders but not shotblockers. Neither was much of a 1 on 1 threat at that point. Luc was younger and gave longer minutes, but Cartwright had better backups.

    The ’96 team had slightly better depth. Kukoc is better than Scott Williams, and Kerr and Paxson offset each other. Purdue and King were more useful than Wennington and Caffee, but not by much.

    Here’s an idea – ’93 Phil Jackson puts ’93 Pippen on ’96 Jordan. Now Scottie’s length might pull Jordan out of the post. And actually ’93 Jordan pressuring ’96 Pippen might be more effective than a head to head match-up too. If super intense on-ball ’93 Jordan can disrupt ’96 point forward Pippen, and ’93 Pippen can make ’96 Jordan a face up player… that seems pretty disruptive to the ’96 offense.

    On the other hand, what happens when the ’96 team puts out a line-up of Harp, MJ, Pip, Kukoc, and Dennis? Do the ’93 big men have the chops to take advantage of the small front line? Alonzo Mourning wasn’t able to get the best of Worm, so I’m doubtful that Cartwright or King could. They don’t have the personnel to go small to match up. Their best bet would be BJ, MJ, Pip, Ho, and Scott Williams. Grant would not like playing Toni at the three point line, and Dennis would abuse Williams on the glass and probably get him kicked out of the game after about 7 minutes of chatting and holding and bumping him.