Scottie Pippen made the bold statement that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls would sweep the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors if the teams met in the NBA Finals. It’s an intriguing hypothetical that many NBA fans have been debating on social media all year. A report from CBS Sports mentions that Pippen isn’t the only member of that Bulls team to make this point, as Ron Harper made the statement earlier in the year.
In the hypothetical scenario where the two teams would play, Scottie Pippen says that he would guard Stephen Curry, while Michael Jordan would be tasked with stopping Klay Thompson. The other main starting players from the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were Dennis Rodman at power forward, Luc Longley at center, and Ron Harper at point guard. Sixth man Toni Kukoc also made 20 starts during the regular season and Steve Kerr was another key player off the bench.
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls finished with a 72-10 regular season record and then went 15-3 during the postseason. In the NBA Playoffs, the Bulls swept the Miami Heat in the first round, beat the New York Knicks 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and then swept the Orlando Magic (with Shaquille O’Neal) in the Eastern Finals. The Bulls then beat the Seattle SuperSonics in six games during the 2016 NBA Finals to secure another championship.
During the playoffs, Michael Jordan led the team with 30.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Scottie Pippen played the most minutes, averaging 41.2 a night while also posting 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds a night. Dennis Rodman had averages of 7.5 points and 13.7 rebounds a game, while Toni Kukoc was at 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
The boldest claim that Scottie Pippen made about guarding Stephen Curry is that he would hold him under 20 points. He didn’t clarify whether that would be for one game or whether Curry would score fewer than 20 points per game over the series. Pippen was one of the better defensive players that the NBA has seen, but it could be tough to keep the defending MVP more than 10 points below his season average.
So far, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors have a 68-8 record. The team still has a shot at eclipsing the 72-10 Bulls for the best regular season record of all-time. Stephen Curry leads the team with 30 points a night, going well with his averages of 5.4 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.2 steals a night. Klay Thompson averages 22.4 points a night, while Harrison Barnes is at 11.4 points, and Andrew Bogut is at 5.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game. Draymond Green, who seems capable of a nightly triple-double, averages 13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game.
A previous report from CBS Sports showed a simulation between the 72-10 Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors before the 2015-16 NBA season got started. Only one game was simulated, with the Warriors easily beating the Bulls 131-105. Michael Jordan was spectacular in the simulation, shooting 23-of-32 from the floor for 51 points on the night. Scottie Pippen finished with 17 points and seven assists, while Stephen Curry had 10 points and 17 assists. The game MVP was Draymond Green, who had 37 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in the victory.
So would Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen allow Draymond Green to score 37 points against them? Would it be realistic to see only 23 shots combined from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson? Would the rest of a series play out in similar fashion to this simulated game? It’s an interesting debate that is likely to continue for years, especially if the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors finish the season with a better record than the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Can the Warriors figure out a way to win six titles in eight years though? That’s the million dollar question. Just don’t ask Scottie Pippen.
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