As far as the Bulls are concerned, there's no sense getting to the NBA Finals if you're not going to win the series. In fact, the Chicago players expect to win if for no other reason than the franchise enters this year's rematch with the Jazz a perfect five-for-five in previous Finals appearances - and have yet to be extended beyond six games.
But this figures to be the team's most challenging series. This year's Jazz team is probably the deepest team the Bulls have faced in the championship round, and the Utah players still are smarting over the loss to the Bulls in the Finals a year ago.
Another Bulls title run?
Here's five things the Bulls must do to win the title and keep their Finals record perfect:
- Dennis Rodman must come to play and forget about all his antics to distract opponents. Karl Malone isn't affected by that - pardon the pun - bull.
- Michael Jordan was spent at the end of the Game 7 win against Indiana, but will need to reach into his bag of 000072 one last time. He must feast in the post against the smaller Utah guards.
- Toni Kukoc has to maintain his solid play. The Jazz don't have a player who can matchup with Kukoc, who is essentially a 6-foot-11 guard.
- Boxing out Malone is easier said than done, but the Bulls must prevent the Mailman from delivering second shots for his teammates. Utah has too many good shooters to give it a second chance.
- Fans in Utah will be outraged, but the Bulls need to knock John Stockton on his butt every time he sets a pick in the lane. They must send the message that guards don't belong in the painted area.
Or is the dynasty done?
Five reasons the Bulls could be in trouble:
- Rodman presents a "bad as I wanna be image," but usually is "as meek as he possibly can be" against Malone.
- Let's face it, the only thing older than the Bulls is dirt. Following a grueling seven games against the Pacers - not to mention a third straight trip to the Finals - the Bulls' tank is nearing empty.
- Without Brian Williams, the Bulls don't have the frontcourt depth that helped them survive a year ago. Dickey Simpkins will have to play a significant role.
- For the first time in three years, the Bulls won't have homecourt advantage in a series. The visiting team doesn't prevail often in the Delta Center.
- Sure, the Bulls want to win a championship in what figures to be their final season together, but they can't be as hungry as the ringless Jazz players.
Jordan double trey
Ron Harper passes the ball to Luc Longley and then moves to set a double screen with Dickey simpkins for Michael jordan. If Harper's defender comes out too thight on Jordan, Harper slips his screen and looks for a backdoor pass from Jordan.