Chapter 41: Pistons, round 2
Last chapter: MJ rolls over the Knicks
The Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls had one of the best rivalries in all of basketball in the late 80’s. Here is a little background on that rivalry.
The “Jordan Rules”
During Michael Jordan’s first playoff meeting with the Pistons in the 1987-88 season, the Pistons used a set of “Jordan Rules” to shut down the Chicago Bulls which relied mostly on Michael for its offense. Jordan was held to under 30 points per game for the series, which the Pistons won 4-1.
The Detroit Pistons were the heavy favorite in this series. They had won 63 games that season, 16 more than the Bulls. However, now that Michael Jordan was playing as a point guard, he was in a good position to get his teammates more involved in the offense. It had worked against Cleveland and New York in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but would it work against the Detroit Pistons?
Shortly before game 1, Jordan predicted a victory in Detroit. He went out and scored 32 points and delivered on his promise with a 94-88 win. The Pistons fought back and won game 2 100-91, evening the series before heading to Chicago.
Michael’s best performance of the series came in game 3 where he scored 46 points. The Bulls were behind by 14 with 8 minutes remaining, but with Jordan leading the rally the Bulls battled back and won the game 99-97 on a clutch game winner by Jordan over Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman.
You can watch the entire game here.
The Bulls were now up 2-1 with one more game left in Chicago. However, the “Jordan Rules” proved effective once again as Jordan was held to 5-15 shooting and 23 points in game 4 and 4-8 shooting and 18 points in game 5, both Detroit victories.
Game 6 was in Chicago and the Bulls were looking to tie the series. Unfortunately Scottie Pippen took an elbow to the head from Bill Laimbeer and had to be sent to the hospital. Missing their all-star forward, the Bulls battled to within 2 points in the fourth quarter. But the Pistons and Isiah Thomas proved to be too strong and pulled away in the final minutes, winning the game 103-94. Jordan scored 32 points and had 13 assists in that game.
The Pistons once again eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs, and would go on to win their first NBA championship. Losing to the eventual champions was little consolation for Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Jordan had still not found a solution for defeating the Pistons, and that would become his focus for the next two years.
Next chapter: The Phil Jackson era