The Chicago Bulls dominated the majority of the 90s. Despite being swept, the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, gave the Bulls a scare in the playoffs.
Led by John Calipari, the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, broke out with a 43-39 record after four consecutive years of missing out on the playoffs.
Their solid regular-season performance earned them the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, and better yet, a date with the Chicago Bulls.
Many pundits barely gave the Nets a fighting chance against a team that won five championships up to that point in the decade alone, as they expected the Bulls to make quick work of them and send them home after three games. Heck, Michael Jordan himself said that the only way the Nets can even win a game against them was if they “fell asleep.”
The Bulls ended up proving the pundits right and swept the Nets, but they didn’t make it as easy as MJ thought, as New Jersey came out with a lot of intensity and ended up outrebounding Chicago 53-39 led by Jayson Williams with 21 of them.
The team in blue also outscored the Bulls 27-17 in the fourth quarter to force an extra period.
In overtime, however, Jordan scored five of seven Chicago points to give them a 96-93 victory.
The Bulls obviously took care of the next two games, but for a team that nobody believed in, the Nets more than held their own against a very tough team and looked to have a bright future, as they averaged the fifth-most points in the league that season with 99.6.
Part of the reason why the Bulls may not have dominated as expected, however, was that MJ appeared to be worn down after so many successful years, and the Bulls as a unit just didn’t take the Nets seriously.
All things considered, the Nets didn’t have much success in the 90s, but fans can always look fondly at the fact that they actually gave the Bulls a legitimate scare in the first two games of this series.