The Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz are two of the most storied franchises in NBA history, because they have a combined 8 NBA Finals appearances and a host of superstar players synonymous with their brands. Michael Jordan is considered the greatest player ever, having won 6 NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls.
Karl Malone and John Stockton have also played at a Hall of Fame level for the Utah Jazz and led the franchise to the NBA Finals twice against Jordan and the Bulls. Despite putting up a great fight, the Jazz fell to the Bulls both times in the Finals. What if Malone and Stockton had more help with Utah’s greatest all-time talents, would they have enough to take down Jordan and the Bulls? Here is how a best-of-7 series between the all-time Bulls and all-time Jazz plays out.
Derrick Rose vs. John Stockton
This matchup is one of opposites because Derrick Rose is one of the most unstoppable physical specimens at his position. He is faster and more explosive than Stockton and will find any possibility to attack the Jazz guard in isolation situations.
Stockton cannot compete with Rose on a physical level but will have to use his smarts. Stockton is the all-time leader in steals for a reason, and he will do a great job pushing Rose out of his comfort spots. Of course, he will set up Karl Malone for the patented pick n roll.
Michael Jordan vs. Donovan Mitchell
Michael Jordan automatically has an advantage in any matchup he is in and will carry that into his battle with Donovan Mitchell. MJ is stronger than Mitchell and will opt to take him one on one from mid-range and in the post.
Mitchell relishes the opportunity to go up against a superstar shooting guard and will try to put pressure on MJ as much as he can. Donovan can be labeled as out of his depth, but he will have some big performances for the Jazz in the series.
Scottie Pippen vs. Adrian Dantley
Scottie Pippen is one of the best perimeter defenders of all time and will be tasked with slowing down Jazz star Adrian Dantley. The Bulls are lucky to have Pippen in their ranks because he will do as good a job as possible against one of the most talented scorers in his position.
Dantley won 2 scoring titles in his career and has multiple seasons averaging over 27 PPG. An explosive scorer with a consistent jumper, Adrian typically goes off against most defenders and Scottie Pippen will need to be at his absolute best to prevent that from happening.
Dennis Rodman vs. Karl Malone
Dennis Rodman is in the lineup for a few reasons: rebound, defend, and be an irritant. Against one of the greatest power forwards ever, Rodman’s defense will be absolutely essential. The Worm will hardly get looks on offense, and will instead focus his efforts on stopping The Mailman.
Karl Malone will be critical in the series because he will lead the Jazz in scoring and be one of the best rebounders on the court. Stockton will find Malone for good looks throughout the series, and the pick n’ roll will be Utah’s main offensive strategy.
Artis Gilmore vs. Rudy Gobert
A more talented offensive player than Rudy Gobert, Artis Gilmore will average more PPG than his opponent while also pulling in over 12 RPG in the series. A Hall of Famer and the greatest center in Bulls history, Gilmore will be one of the best players in the series.
Rudy Gobert will need to focus his efforts on defending the rim because he has to handle Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan attacking the basket and also help out with Karl Malone. The Frenchman will need to be at his best because without his defense, the Jazz do not stand a chance.
All-Time Bulls Advantages
The Bulls have an elite defense, meaning the Utah Jazz players will struggle to get good looks on the floor even if they are all superstar talents. All five players on the Bulls play lockdown defense, from the perimeter to the paint. Not to mention, there are leaders on the team that will ensure proper defensive effort is there from the start.
Jordan and Pippen are the best perimeter defensive duo in NBA history because they can pick Stockton and Mitchell up the length of the court. In the paint, Rodman and Gilmore are too dominant on defense for the Jazz to get easy looks. There is no doubt the Bulls’ defense is elite, and they have a better-combined defense than what Rudy Gobert brings for the Jazz.
All-Time Jazz Advantages
The Jazz have excellent offensive players on their side and will need to channel that as much as possible to try to keep up with Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ defensive weapons. Stockton is an elite shooter and passer, making the likes of Adrian Dantley and Karl Malone more potent offensively.
Utah will realize that the Bulls play lockdown defense, and need to put pressure on them from the start of the series. But Utah have a chance to be dominant offensively, focusing on their dynamic duo of Stockton and Malone while letting Dantley and Mitchell run with the ball.
Who Wins A Best-Of-7-Series?
Game 1 is a tight contest because both sets of players put up big performances. MJ drops a cool 40 points against Malone’s 35, and the game comes down to the wire. In the 4th quarter, with the game tied 89-89, Donovan Mitchell drives to the bucket and finishes a tough layup to give the Jazz a 2-point lead with 24 seconds on the clock. The Jazz blitz Jordan, forcing him to pass to Derrick Rose who nails a three-pointer to win the game.
Game 2 is more of the same, as Jordan and Malone combine for 77 points. The Bulls cannot find a way to stop Malone, double-teaming him in the post throughout the 4th quarter. Stockton also finishes with a game-high 14 assists and 5 steals. Down two, the Jazz point guard nails a deep three-pointer to give Utah a 1-point lead with 13 seconds left for the Bulls. This time, Jordan takes matters into his own hands and finishes a tough layup to give Chicago a 1-point lead. A heave by Mitchell rims out, giving the Bulls a 2-0 series lead.
Utah bounce back in Game 3, finding their rhythm with their shooting. Mitchell and Dantley have their best series yet, dropping a combined 60 points, and Gobert dominates the paint with a 15-rebound double-double. Double-teaming Jordan throughout the game, the Jazz win convincingly 99-90.
Once again, the game is close entering the fourth quarter in Game 4. With the game tied 89-89 in the fourth, Jordan has the ball with 20 seconds left. MJ attacks, steps back, and gets a good look from mid-range that rims out. After a timeout, Utah has 6 seconds to get off a game-winner. They find Mitchell, who drives and flips up a layup that misses the mark, only for Malone to tip in the shot to win the game.
Game 5 is a critical one because the Bulls want a commanding lead in the series and Utah have all the momentum at this point. But the game isn’t close. Derrick Rose has his best game with 30 points and 12 assists, attacking John Stockton in isolation aggressively. Michael and Pippen both drop near triple-doubles, and Gilmore absolutely owns the paint. With a 110-90 victory, the Bulls head into Game 6.
This game is very competitive, mainly because neither team find their range from the floor. The Bulls shot 39% from the field in the first half from the field, including 29% from three. Similarly, Utah shot a poor 41% from the field and only attempt 5 three-pointers. The second half picks up, as both teams shoot a combined 45%. But this is not an attractive game by any means, and the game is 85-85 entering the fourth quarter.
The difference in this game is the Bulls find a way to make enough shots against a Jazz team that goes cold. Malone goes 1-7 in the 4th, Mitchell goes 2-5, and Stockton fails to make a three. Scoring only 18 points in the 4th in a frustrating fashion, Chicago find enough offense from Jordan and Rose to win the game 110-103. The series ends in 6 games, and Jordan is the standout player for his clutch plays throughout the contest.
Final Result: All-Time Chicago Bulls vs. All-Time Utah Jazz 4-2
Finals MVP: Michael Jordan