When Michael Jordan ran the NBA for most of the 90s, it came without a lot of wins for the Chicago Bulls. After all, the Bulls set the NBA record for wins in a season with 72 before the Warriors broke it in 2015-2016. With Jordan leading the team, the Bulls were six-time NBA champions that punished teams in the league for nearly a decade.
The Bulls are one of the best franchises when it comes to their record against opposing teams. Some teams could do without playing the Bulls ever again. Others have been up to one heckuva fight. Here are the head-to-head totals for the regular season and playoffs against each team.
Atlanta Hawks 134-116 (Regular Season), 12-10 (NBA Playoffs)
The Bulls did a lot of their damage against the Hawks when Jordan wasn’t playing for the team. At one point, the Bulls owned a nine-game winning streak against the Hawks during the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 seasons. Then, the Bulls picked up a 12-game winning streak against the Hawks during the 2000s when Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Ben Gordon were leading the team.
The two teams have met in the playoffs with their last meeting coming in 2011. In Derrick Rose’s MVP season, the Hawks battled the No. 1 seed to six games but ultimately were taken down. The last time the Hawks have beaten the Bulls in a playoff series was in 1970.
Boston Celtics 107-128 (Regular Season), 5-18 (NBA Playoffs)
The Celtics are not the biggest catalyst for the Bulls when it comes to head-to-head games, but they are certainly a tough matchup. The Celtics own long history of successful players in Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and now Jayson Tatum. During the 80s, Jordan wasn’t able to get past Bird until he got older.
Once Jordan got to the 90s, he reigned supreme, which included being a part of an 11-game winning streak against Boston. With that said, the team struggles against the Celtics in the playoffs. There is a chance the two teams could meet this year. If that happens, Bulls fans should be concerned. Out of five meetings, the Bulls have never won a playoff series against Boston.
Brooklyn Nets 96-83 (Regular Season), 7-3 (NBA Playoffs)
When Vince Carter was leading Brooklyn, the Nets won seven straight games against the Bulls in the 2000s. The Bulls won the last laugh though. During the first three-peat, the Bulls beat the Nets 12 straight times. Then, during a stretch from 1994 to 1999, the Bulls won 14 of 15 meetings.
The Bulls and the Nets have met twice in the playoffs. In 1998, the Bulls swept the Nets. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that the Bulls would down the Nets in seven games. The Nets had Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez on the team, but lost to a Bulls squad that had Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah.
Charlotte Hornets 75-44 (Regular Season), 7-2 (NBA Playoffs)
From 1989 to nearly the end of December 1992, the Bulls never lost to the Hornets. That included a 17-game winning streak against Charlotte. Granted, the Hornets returned the favor from 1999 to 2001 by winning nine straight, but in the end, Chicago has been the better franchise.
That includes winning playoff series in 1995 and 1998. From Jordan to Gordon to Rose, the Bulls have owned the Hornets. This has been a very one-sided matchup throughout the years.
Cleveland Cavaliers 130-94 (Regular Season), 20-14 (NBA Playoffs)
When Joakim Noah talked about nobody wanting to go to Cleveland for vacation, he put a spark back in one of the oldest rivalries in the Central Division. The Cavaliers were once a punching bag to the Bulls in the playoffs. The team lost playoff series matchups in 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, and 1994. The 1992 playoff loss was in the Conference Finals.
After years of frustration, the Bulls were dropped by the Cavaliers in the first round of the 2010 playoffs and then in 2015 in LeBron James’ first year back. Despite the Bulls owning the better record, this has always been a tough back and forth.
Dallas Mavericks 40-42 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
After getting blown out by the Mavericks in their recent matchup, the Bulls blew a chance to pull this head to head back to .500. The longest streak for either team is 12 straight by the Mavericks. When Dirk Nowitzki came into the league, the Bulls had no answer for the team from 1999 to 2004.
The Bulls won 12 straight from 1989 to 1994 when the Mavericks were first introduced to the league. Since 2004, the two teams have typically split the season series. With Luka Doncic signed to a long-term deal, this will be a hard game to win for years to come.
Denver Nuggets 42-55 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
As of recently, Nikola Jokic owns the Chicago Bulls. He has led the Nuggets to a winning streak as large as nine straight that lasted from 2016-2021. The largest winning streak for the Bulls in five games. The Bulls have never found a way to consistently beat this team.
The two teams have never played in the playoffs due to being in different conferences. If that happened, it would be in favor of the Nuggets. With many more years left in the tank for Jokic, it will be interesting to see how many more wins he can get against Chicago.
Detroit Pistons 139-133 (Regular Season), 16-19 (NBA Playoffs)
The Bulls and the Pistons have played each other the most out of any teams Chicago has played. Both teams have battled 307 times with the Bulls narrowly owning the winning margin in the regular season. Many forget that the Pistons owned a very competitive team from the 80s to the mid-2000s.
With that said, Jordan led the Bulls to 19 straight wins against the Pistons in the 90s. Then, the Bulls won 18 straight from 2009 to 2014. Now, the Bulls own a 10 game winning streak. The back and forth runs have made this one of the best rivalries in the history of the Bulls.
In the playoffs, Jordan’s Bulls were eliminated by the Pistons in 1988, 1989, and 1990. That included losing to the Pistons and Isiah Thomas in the Conference Finals all three seasons. However, the Bulls defeated the Pistons in 1991, which felt like the passing of the torch. That series loss was also when the team walked off the floor without shaking the hands of the Bulls.
Golden State Warriors 84-78 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Bulls ran the table against the Warriors during the 90s. That included 13 straight victories from 1991 to 1998. Essentially, the three-peat years were a travesty for Golden State when they had to play Chicago. Now, the Warriors are getting their revenge with a superstar of their own in Steph Curry. Since 2017, the Warriors have won nine straight games against the Bulls.
The long win streaks by Jordan and Curry are just another example of great superstars leading their teams to victories. It’s a shame that the two teams never played each other with both on the roster. With both teams contending for No. 1 seeds this year, maybe we will get to see the teams face off for the first time in the NBA Finals.
Houston Rockets 71-72 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
In the 70s, the Bulls recorded a nine-game winning streak, as well as an 11-game winning streak. Since then, the Rockets have gone on mini winning streaks, winning just enough games to give them the advantage in the head-to-head matchup. Two players stick out the most when you look at the back and forth in the last three decades.
During the 90s, Hakeem Olajuwon helped the Rockets typically split the season series with Jordan. Both teams never went on long winning streaks. Then, once James Harden came to town, the Rockets went on a winning streak as large as seven games. That streak ended once Harden was traded to the Nets.
Indiana Pacers 102-97 (Regular Season), 8-4 (NBA Playoffs)
Since 2000, the Pacers own two respective 10-game winning streaks against the Bulls. It makes up for the two playoff wins that the Bulls own over the Pacers. In 2011, the Bulls defeated the Pacers in five games in the first round of the playoffs. With that said, no loss hurt more than Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to send Chicago to the NBA Finals for a third straight year.
Outside of Detroit, this has to be one of the biggest rivalries in Chicago. It doesn’t have the flare as a Los Angeles or New York intracity matchup, but these two teams get after it when they are on the court. For lifelong fans, watching Jordan and Reggie Miller go toe to toe was must-watch television.
Los Angeles Clippers 67-55 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
Jordan and Pippen beat up on the Clippers during their first three-peat years. That included winning 10 straight games from 1990 to 1994. When Jordan returned, the Bulls ran the table again with a 10-game winning streak that carried over into 2000 despite Jordan leaving the league in 1998. The Clippers rattled off six straight wins up to 2003 after that and haven’t looked back.
Since Chris Paul joined the team for the 2011-2012 season, the Clippers have jump-started to being a solid franchise with players like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard wearing the jersey. Since that season, the Bulls have only beat the Clippers five times.
Los Angeles Lakers 65-94 (Regular Season), 11-17 (NBA Playoffs)
The Lakers have had the Bulls’ numbers for several years. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and now LeBron James have given the Lakers over 40 years of star power, while the Bulls have had one solid decade against the team. The real story comes from when the two teams played in the playoffs.
In 1970, 1971, and 1972, the Lakers eliminated the Bulls three straight years. This was before the teams were divided up by conferences. The last time the two teams met was in 1991 in the NBA Finals when the Bulls eliminated the Lakers in five games. After the series, we would learn that Johnson would retire due to an HIV diagnosis.
Memphis Grizzlies 29-23 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
When the Grizzlies started as a franchise, the Bulls took the first seven games. The last three years of Jordan’s tenure with the Bulls included six of those wins. Then, the Grizzlies won seven of the next 10 matchups with Pau Gasol entering the league as a potential star. The next 10 years saw a back and forth with both teams splitting most season series.
The Bulls went on a mini six-game winning streak but lost both contests with the team last year. With Ja Morant embarking towards stardom, these next few matchups are going to be tough for the Bulls. With both teams in the top-4 of their respective leagues, this will not be a slouch series.
Miami Heat 60-60 (Regular Season), 18-13 (NBA Playoffs)
If you are looking for rivals outside of the division, you don’t have to look far. The Bulls and Heat own a complete back and forth fight with each other. With that said, for the last 20 years, the Heat have fought off Chicago. During the 90s, the Bulls won 14 straight contests, but times have changed since 2003.
When Dwyane Wade joined the team, the Heat won nine of 10 games from 2003 to 2005. Then, LeBron James and Chris Bosh came to town in 2010, but the Bulls won all three regular-season games in their first season in Miami. After that, the Bulls split the season series the following three years, proving how hard those Chicago teams played against the star-studded Heat roster.
Milwaukee Bucks 132-124 (Regular Season), 8-10 (NBA Playoffs)
Giannis Antetokounmpo is making his mark on Chicago. Giannis, who is one of the most likable players, is making it easy to hate him. Since the 2017-2018 season, the Bulls have beat the Bucks just three times. That also includes losing to the team 12 straight times before the Bulls won on May 16, 2021.
The Bucks and Bulls have gone 2-2 in series wins. The Bucks bounced the Bulls in the 1974 and 1985 playoffs. The Bulls won their first-round series against the Bucks in 1990 and 2015. With both teams’ position in the standings, we could potentially see a meeting in the playoffs.
Minnesota Timberwolves 34-27 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
If you needed any more reason to love Kevin Garnett, look at what he did when he led the team back in the day. From 1999 to 2004, the Timberwolves won 10 straight games against the Bulls. Were these the same Bulls from the dynasty run? Absolutely not. TBulls’mberwolves haven’t been able to produce a steak like that against Chicago since.
The win streak was probably revenging for when the team first entered the league. When the two teams faced off for the first time in 1989, Chicago owned their number. The Bulls won 16 straight games which spanned to January 15, 1997.
New Orleans Pelicans 25-18 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
Since their first meeting in 2003, the Pelicans have battled the Bulls fairly well. From Chris Paul to Anthony Davis, New Orleans has found a way to keep these games close. The longest winning streak comes from the Bulls, which included eight straight when Derrick Rose was playing in MVP form.
Davis helped the Pelicans win four straight games when he was playing in the late 2010s. The Pelicans then won two more games after he left for the Lakers to win six straight. With Zion Williamson now the face of the franchise, all eyes will be on what he can do to lead the franchise next.
New York Knicks 126-112 (Regular Season), 24-12 (NBA Playoffs)
This is one of the longest rivalries in NBA history. Both teams are long-time franchises with a long rich history. Before 1990, the two teams typically went back and forth. Neither team went on a long win streak. That didn’t happen until Jordan’s Bulls began to rise to fame. From 1990 to 1992, the Bulls won 11 straight.
Patrick Ewing’s most notable performances came during the 1997-1998 season when the Knicks beat the Bulls in all four regular-season games. However, it was the Bulls that made and won the NBA Finals. The two teams met frequently in playoffs during the 90s, with the Bulls eliminating the Knicks in 1981, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996.
Oklahoma City Thunder 76-76 (Regular Season), 4-2 (NBA Playoffs)
Before the Thunder moved to Oklahoma, this rivalry with the Seattle SuperSonics was real. You had Jordan leading the Bulls to the top each year as the most established scorer the world had ever seen. Then, you had Gary Payton, who took more pride in defense than anybody. That greatness was on full display in the 1996 NBA Finals, where Chicago took the series in six games.
As for the regular season, It didn’t get any easier with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In the last 10 years, the Bulls have won just six times out of 19 games. With the Bulls rising and the Thunder rebuilding, this is a prime chance for the team to retake the series lead.
Orlando Magic 64-54 (Regular Season), 6-4 (NBA Playoffs)
When Shaquille O’Neal played for the Magic, they were able to take the series head to head up until his departure for the Lakers. Then, the Magic took advantage of some really bad Bulls teams after Jordan’s retirement where they won 13 of the next 14 meetings. The Bulls were able to regain their footing once Ben Gordon and Luol Deng played, but the team then dropped a series of eight of their next ten when Dwight Howard began to take over as the league’s best center.
The Derrick Rose years saw a lot of success and then everything fell apart for the Magic when Howard left for the Lakers. For the most part, the Bulls have taken care of business against Orlando in the last 10 years.
Philadelphia 76ers 106-130 (Regular Season), 10-6 (NBA Playoffs)
Joel Embiid is the real deal. He owns the Bulls. Since the 2017-2018 season, the 76ers have defeated the Bulls 12 of the 14 times, including nine straight. Before Embiid became a part of the process, the Bulls took advantage of that process to make the team competitive. From 2014 to 2017, the Bulls won 12 straight games.
Embiid has a chance to lead the 76ers to something Jordan and Pippen did back in the 90s. From the 1993-1994 season to the 1997-1998 season, the Bulls won 16 straight matchups against Philadelphia. That would require seven more victories and the Bulls are a lot better these days, so that would be a true legendary feat if possible.
Phoenix Suns 71-72 (Regular Season), 4-2 (NBA Playoffs)
From Charles Barkley to Steve Nash to Chris Paul, these Suns have always given the Bulls a tough time. If you go way back in time, the two teams went about .500 against each other in the 70s, but the Suns rattled off 10 straight wins in the early 80s. That streak ended right around when Jordan was drafted in 1984.
The Bulls have never been able to piece together a long winning streak against the Suns. The longest streak they have is five games. The last time that happened was in 1974. In the playoffs, the two teams met in the 1993 NBA Finals, where Jordan led the Bulls past MVP Charles Barkley in six games. With both teams at the top of their respective conferences, we could see a repeat 29 years later.
Portland Trail Blazers 63-67 (Regular Season), 5-4 (NBA Playoffs)
When the Trail Blazers first came into the league, the Bulls were extremely successful. That includes winning 18 of their first 21 matchups in the 70s. Towards the later 70s, the Trail Blazers won 12 of the next 14 matchups. After that, the teams went back and forth and split most of their matchups.
Clyde Drexler and Jordan had some great battles in the 90s, which included the 1992 NBA Finals, where the Bulls won in six games. As of late, Portland has had a lot of success against Chicago. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the team has beaten the Bulls 15 of the last 20 times.
Sacramento Kings 83-81 (Regular Season), 4-2 (NBA Playoffs)
When you hear that the Kings have pushed the Bulls to the limits, you might have to reread that. These two teams own a deep playing history that dates back to when the Kings were playing in Cincinnati and Kansas City. Neither team owned a long winning streak against each other until Chris Webber joined the Kings.
From 1999 to 2005, the Kings won 11 straight games against the Bulls. That also includes a stretch of winning 16 of 17 games that goes into 2007. The Bulls own a couple of five game-winning streaks against the Kings, but Sacramento always rises when they play Chicago.
San Antonio Spurs 35-58 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Spurs are an absolute Bull slayer. The Spurs have beaten the Bulls over 20 more times than the other way around. The two teams began playing during the 1976-1977 season. Before Jordan was drafted in 1984, the Bulls could only beat the Spurs six times. Even when Jordan played at his peak, the Spurs came out on top. During the first three-peat seasons, the Bulls beat San Antonio once.
With that said, the Bulls best run against the Spurs came during the second three-peat season, where they swept all six games. Then, the dynasty of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili was formed as the Spurs won six straight games.
Toronto Raptors 53-45 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
Despite playing in the same conference since 1995-1996, the Raptors and the Bulls have never met in the playoffs. That seems pretty wild when you look back in history. The Raptors became a team right around the second three-peat years and the Bulls won 10 of their first 12 meetings. Then, Vinsanity took over in Chicago as the Raptors won 16 straight games over four straight years.
Then, despite the Raptors having Chris Bosh on the team, the Bulls rattled off 15 straight wins from 2003 to 2007. What’s even more impressive is that when the Bulls played the Raptors during the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan years, the Bulls still took down Toronto 11 straight times. However, the combination of Lowry, DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, and Pascal Siakam led the Raptors to 17 straight wins from 2017 to 2020. Talk about a true back and forth battle in long winning streaks.
Utah Jazz 54-52 (Regular Season), 8-4 (NBA Playoffs)
Before Jordan was drafted, the Bulls won two-thirds of the meetings between two teams. After that, neither team went on long winning streaks. From 1984 to 2000, the longest winning streak from either team was five games. The battles between Karl Malone and Jordan are well documented, which includes two championship battles in the 1997 and 1998 Finals.
After Jordan retired, the Jazz defeated the Bulls 10 straight games. The longest streak for the Bulls against the Jazz was six games. This may not be considered a true rivalry, but back in the day, this was a game that both teams were always excited to play.
Washington Wizards 128-107 (Regular Season), 6-8 (NBA Playoffs)
The history between these two teams goes back to when the team was called the Bullets. Up to 1972, the two teams split the all-time series. Then, the two teams remained deadlocked all-time in 1981. The 80s saw the Bullets pull away from the Bulls, owning a 10-game advantage before the 1990s.
Going into the 1989-1990 season, Washington held a 62-55 advantage. After Jordan’s last season with the Bulls, the Bulls held an 83-68 advantage. Since then, the Bulls have maintained close to a 20-game advantage on the team with no major winning streaks. As far as the playoffs go, the Bulls bounced the Wizards in 1997, but have been eliminated in the first round twice, once in 2005 and the other in 2014.