E-Dub’s NBA Vault: Bulls vs. Suns Game 6, 1993 Finals

A couple of weeks ago I made a post on Facebook about how a lot of the basketball we remember to be so sacred was viewed through our adolescent eyes. So I figured I would start a series in which I would go back and breakdown some games from the 80’s and 90’s with my adult eyes. Because 39 year old me is so much better at breaking down basketball than 14 year old me. So follow me on this journey and let’s take a trip back in time.

Bulls vs Suns, Game 6 of the NBA Finals 1993. Bulls had 3-2 lead.

The first thing that sticks out to me is the pace of the game. There wasn’t one guy dominating the ball like you see in todays NBA. The pace was just so quick and after the first quarter it was 37 to 28. The speed of the game kept up deep into the 3rd qtr. I don’t recall the shot clock even getting down to 10 seconds.

Also I did not realize how efficient and good the Bulls shooters were. John Paxson, B.J Armstrong, Trent Tucker where all guys who could knock down shots. The Suns countered with guys like Danny Ainge and Dan Majerle but they definitely didn’t have as many shooters.

Also of note is the style of play which is probably the most glaring difference between the games of the 90s and today’s game. All five players were moving at all times and nobody was ever just standing around. It was kind of weird to see the ball thrown into the post and have the offense initiated that way.

And let me be clear I don’t think one way is better than the other I just think that they’re both different. I enjoy both of them, it’s just the evolution of the game.

Random: despite the jokes Bill Cartwright was actually a decent NBA center for this Bulls team. He knew his role in the triangle offense and he was pretty solid from 10 to 14 feet out.

Again it just seems like everybody had a respectable jump shot even the 7th and 8th player on both squads.

Random: Scott Williams was trash.

One thing that is often left out in the discussion of the greatest was the dynamic mystery of how to stop the triangle offense. Phil Jackson was such an asset in MJ and Kobe’s careers but he is rarely brought up when discussing their greatness.

B.J Armstrong was such a solid shooter. Also of note, Tom Chambers was “my guy” back in the day. Watching him drive baseline and reverse dunk in the 1st qtr brought back feelings of nostalgia.

Man I was really pulling for Richard Dumas but addiction is a crazy thing.

Heading into the 4th Bulls up by 8, and one thing that history doesn’t give credit to was how good this Bulls squad was as a total team. John Paxson came off the bench, Trent Tucker went 4 for 4 and finished with 9 points in 7 minutes.

In a vacuum this Bulls team reminds me of the Spurs teams of the early 2000’s being that no matter who came into the game they were fully versed in the triangle offense.

By the numbers:

  • Dan Majerle led the nba in 3’s with 192. (This year Harden led the league with 265).
  • Scottie Pippen led the NBA in triple doubles with 6.

MJ didn’t have a good 3rd quarter however with 2 mins left in the 4th the Bulls had only put up 7points. … MJ had all 7.

It’s 3:20 left in the game, I know how this is going to end but there is a part of me that still believes Phoenix is going to win this game.

Under a minute and the Suns were really up 4 with the ball. I didn’t realize how much they utterly collapsed.

First collapse. Out of a timeout 45 seconds left in the game, up by 4 with all those stars on the Suns roster and Frank Johnson takes the shot.

Frank freaking Johnson!!!!

Paul Westpaul how do you not get the ball to the MVP of the league (Barkley) on the most important possession of the season?

Second Collapse. MJ gets the rebound goes coast to coast on a uncontested layup. Nobody in that arena thought they should stop the ball? They teach you that in High School. The whole play took 5 seconds.

Next Suns collapse … I mean possession, Ball goes to Barkley, he gets doubled, ball ends up in Majerle’s hands.

Miss

That set the stage for the last 14.4 seconds and we all know what happened next.

Key to this play:

Barkley over plays Pip, goes for the steal and jumps out of defensive position. Pip now has the advantage and the WHOLE defense has to recover for Barkley’s mistake.

Ainge leaves his man (Paxson) to help on Pip, West has to come up to clog the lane so Pippen doesn’t get the uncontested free layup.

Here is the crazy part. When Horace Grant gets the ball he could easily go to the hoop and get a high percentage shot. But Grant was in the middle of a slump and games 5 and 6 he was down right awful. He wanted no parts of that shot.

Again, because of Barkley’s mistake and the defensive shift as a result Grant finds a wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiddddddeeeeee open John Paxson who finish the playoffs shooting 62% from 3.

Listen.. the boy shot 62% (15 for 24) from 3 point range for the entire playoffs.

Ball movement happened and then gametime.

Bulls really got outscored 19-12 in that 4th quarter and MJ had 9 of those points. If this had been 2018 Charles Barkley would have been roasted on social media. After all he was he MVP of the league.

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