The Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz are two of the most legendary franchises in NBA history, as they have a total of 8 NBA Finals appearances and a host of superstar players synonymous with their brands. Michael Jordan is considered the greatest player of all time, having won 6 NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls.
Karl Malone and John Stockton also played Hall of Fame level for the Utah Jazz and led the franchise to the NBA Finals twice against Jordan and the Bulls. Despite a great fight, the Jazz fell to the Bulls twice in the Finals. What if Malone and Stockton had more help with Utah’s all-time greatest talent, would they have enough to defeat Jordan and the Bulls? Here’s how a best-of-7 series between the all-time Bulls and the all-time Jazz plays out.
Derrick Rose vs. John Stockton
This match is one of opposites as Derrick Rose is one of the most unstoppable physical specimens in his position. He’s faster and more explosive than Stockton and will find every opportunity to attack the Jazz guard in isolation situations.
Stockton can’t match Rose physically but will have to use his wits. Stockton is the all-time leader in steals for a reason, and he will do a great job pushing Rose out of his comfort zones. Of course, he’ll set up Karl Malone for the patented pick n roll.
Michael Jordan vs. Donovan Mitchell
Michael Jordan automatically has an advantage in any game he finds himself in and will carry it into his battle with Donovan Mitchell. MJ is stronger than Mitchell and will choose to take him one-on-one from midrange and into the post.
Mitchell relishes the opportunity to take on a superstar shooter and will try to pressure MJ as much as he can. Donovan may be labeled as out of his depth, but he will have great performances for the Jazz in the series.
Scottie Pippen vs. Adrian Dantley
Scottie Pippen is one of the greatest 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 as he will do the best job possible against one of the most talented scorers in his position.
Dantley has won 2 goalscoring titles in his career and has multiple seasons averaging over 27 PPG. An explosive goalscorer with a consistent jumper, Adrian usually takes on most defenders and Scottie Pippen will need to be at his best to prevent that from happening.
Dennis Rodman vs Karl Malone
Dennis Rodman is in the lineup for several reasons: rebounding, defending and being an irritant. Against one of the greatest power forwards of all time, Rodman’s defense will be absolutely essential. The worm will hardly be watched on offense and will instead focus its efforts on stopping the postman.
Karl Malone will be critical in the series as he will lead the Jazz in scoring and be one of the best rebounders on the field. Stockton will find Malone to look good throughout the series, and 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 achieving more than 12 RPGs in the series. A Hall of Famer and the greatest center in Bulls history, Gilmore will go down as one of the best players in the series.
Rudy Gobert will have to focus his efforts on rim defense as he has to manage Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan attacking the basket and also help Karl Malone. The French will have to be on top because without his defense, the Jazz have no chance.
Advantages of all-time bulls
The Bulls have an elite defense, which means the Utah Jazz players will struggle to look good on the floor even though they’re all superstar talent. All five Bulls players play lockdown defense, from perimeter to paint. Not to mention that there are leaders in the team who will make sure the 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 down the length of the court. In the paint, Rodman and Gilmore are too dominant on defense for the Jazz to get an easy look. There’s no question the Bulls’ defense is elite, and they have a better combined defense than what Rudy Gobert brings to the Jazz.
All-Time Jazz Advantages
The Jazz have some great offensive players on their side and will need to channel that as much as possible to try and keep up with Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ defensive weapons. Stockton is a sharp shooter and passer, which makes Adrian Dantley and Karl Malone more powerful offensively.
Utah will realize the Bulls are playing lockout defense and need to put pressure on them early in the series. But Utah has a chance to be dominant offensively, focusing on its dynamic duo of Stockton and Malone while letting Dantley and Mitchell run the ball.
Who wins a Best-Of-7 series?
Game 1 is a tight competition as both sets of players put in great performances. MJ loses 40 points to Malone’s 35, and the game comes down to the wire. In the 4th quarter, with the game tied 89-89, Donovan Mitchell heads for the bucket and completes 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 or less the same, as Jordan and Malone combine for 77 points. The Bulls can’t find a way to stop Malone, having him double at the post throughout the 4th quarter. Stockton also finishes with 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 completes a tough layup to give Chicago a 1-point lead. A Mitchell uprising is unleashed, giving the Bulls a 2-0 series lead.
Utah bounced back in Game 3, finding their groove with their shooting. Mitchell and Dantley had their best streak yet, dropping 60 points combined, and Gobert topped the paint with a 15-rebound double-double. Teaming up with Jordan throughout the game, the Jazz win convincingly 99-90.
Once again the game is close going into the fourth quarter of Game 4. With the game tied 89-89 in the fourth, Jordan has the ball with 20 seconds left. MJ attacks, backs up and gets a good look at the midrange sticking out. After a timeout, Utah has 6 seconds to come out a winner. They find Mitchell, who drives and returns a layup that misses the target, only for Malone to point in the shot to win the game.
Game 5 is critical as the Bulls want a dominant series lead and Utah has all the momentum at this point. But the game is not close. Derrick Rose has his best game with 30 points and 12 assists, attacking John Stockton in isolation in aggressive fashion. Both Michael and Pippen fall near the triple-double, and Gilmore absolutely owns the paint. With a 110-90 win, the Bulls head into Game 6.
This game is very competitive, mainly because neither team finds its lineup from the ground. The Bulls shot 39% from the field in the first half from the field, including 29% from three. Similarly, Utah shot 41% from the field and only attempted 5 three-pointers. The second half resumes, with both teams shooting a combined 45%. But it’s by no means an attractive game, and the game is 85-85 early in the fourth quarter.
The difference in this game is that the Bulls find a way to get enough shots against a cooling Jazz team. Malone goes 1-7 in the 4th, Mitchell goes 2-5 and Stockton fails to make a three. Scoring just 18 points in the frustrating 4th, Chicago finds 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: Chicago Bulls all-time vs. Utah Jazz all-time 4-2
Finals MVP: Michael Jordan