NBA / May 27, 2009 / 12:00 pm

NBA Fantasy Finals: 1996 Bulls vs. 1986 Celtics

Larry Legend

Larry Legend

To clarify: Our NBA Fantasy Finals have nothing to do with the stat-driven “fantasy basketball” you play online. We’re taking NBA Finals teams throughout history and pitting them against each other to see what you think would happen. Assume both lineups are healthy, and the older team gets homecourt. Today it’s Mike vs. Larry and two of the greatest teams of all-time …

1996 CHICAGO BULLS (72-10)
G – Ron Harper (7.4 ppg, 1.3 spg)
G – Michael Jordan (30.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.2 spg)
F – Scottie Pippen (19.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.7 spg)
F – Dennis Rodman (5.5 ppg, 14.9 rpg)
C – Luc Longley (9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
BenchToni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, Jud Buechler, Randy Brown
CoachPhil Jackson

1986 BOSTON CELTICS (67-15)
G – Dennis Johnson (15.6 ppg, 5.8 apg)
G – Danny Ainge (10.7 ppg, 5.1 apg)
F – Larry Bird (25.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 6.8 apg, 2.0 spg)
F – Kevin McHale (21.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.0 bpg)
C – Robert Parish (16.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
BenchScott Wedman, Bill Walton, Jerry Sichting, Greg Kite, Rick Carlisle
CoachK.C. Jones

Who would win a best-of-seven series?

2003 Nets vs. 1995 Rockets
2008 Celtics vs. 1993 Suns
2004 Pistons vs. 1994 Knicks
2006 Heat vs. 2001 Sixers
2007 Spurs vs. 1998 Bulls
2008 Lakers vs. 1995 Magic

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  • Sacc

    The best series yet. But the bulls take it in 7 because they have MJ and no one on the celtics could even begin to stop him

  • http://www.CalmYoSelf.com Kermit the Washington

    Bulls in 6.
    Pippen Finals MVP

  • http://www.realgm.com Rare Air

    Awesome matchup – slight edge to the Bulls in 7. I think McHale would kill though, Pippin could keep Bird in check.

  • hucklebuck

    wow. this one is a good one. A hard nosed non athletic team against a tough way more athletic team.

    the matchups are good.
    Johnson>Harper-too touch for Harper, would use his body.

    Jordan>Ainge-MJ, but not without a fight. if this is in the 80s, Aingle is definately throwing a punch and MJ would take him out, then score the next 20 points.

    Bird>Pippen-GREAT matchup, Pippen would definately make him work, but not as much as Michael Cooper would. this would be Bird’s greatest series.

    McHale>Rodman-Rodman stands a chance cuz he is stronger and quick, but would get bamboozled by McHale’s post book of moves.

    Parrish>Longley-Longley would get dunked out, and isn’t quick enough to beat Parrish to rebounds.

    Bench-Celtics cuz they have all bangers and bruisers, Kerr and Kukoc would run away like girls.

    Celtics in 7, double overtime in the Boston Garden.
    MJ Finals MVP for losing team.

  • David Brandon

    damn, this is the best one yet. i’d still have to say the bulls in 7. mike is just too much for boston’s backcourt. hell, and the frontcourt! but the match up to watch all season long is pippen/bird. wow. talk about gettin after it… mchale will eventually give dennis crazy buckets, but would dennis eventually get under his skin? the chief pretty much handles luc longley. funny, cause the x factor could really be dennis johnson here. the major players could essentially cancel each other out. thats why we have role players, kids. overall tho, this is the best one thats been posted. nice job fellas…

  • nbaman

    Celtics in 6. Bird can match Jordan shot for shot, but the supporting casts are much in favor of the celts.

  • doc

    Bulls in 7.This was the best that both teams had to offer.But I can not pick against Mike with Scottie doing the Doberman thing on Bird.Rodman would make Kevin Mc work.I just give it to Mike in 7.

  • bsteezy3

    Damn…this would be a real tough one. Like others have said, this might be the best fantasy match-up yet. I hate to say it, but the Bulls might be overmatched in this one. Jordan would go off of course, but this would be a more elite team the Bulls would be against. You’re talking about one of the best frontlines ever–maybe Pip contains Bird (I don’t think he’d stop him, and I love me some Scottie Pippen), Rodman maybe gets in McHale’s head…but The Chief is gonna school Luc Longley(and they had Walton coming off the bench). I wonder how Kukoc would play into it…Ron Harper wouldn’t be able to f*ck with DJ. MJ is the greatest of my generation, but I’ve seen him score lots of points on the Celts, and the Bulls lose. The ’96 MJ is much smarter than the one that played the Celts in ’86…hmm… Damn! I’m gonna pick the Bulls, but only because I’m a Jordan/Pippen fan. I damn sure wouldn’t put money on this! (that is, IF this was even possible to play)

  • Ian

    best one but celts win in 5 pippen would be destroyed sorry and rodman cant handle mchale (he couldnt handle malone kemp and kersey and this man is harder to guard) chief would kill luc. jordan would get his like he did vs the celts in the playoffs but still got swept.
    bulls better not lose a game at home cuz that celts team will hold win all three in boston.

  • 92021SpurMD

    People seem to forget that this is the 72-10 Bulls. I’m sorry, but they are WAY too athletic for Boston to handle, not to mention the Bulls have the best last second shooter EVER in MJ!!! Depending if Bird makes a miraculous last second shot in the 5th game, Bulls in either 5 or 6.

  • Rafa23

    well ian, pippen vs. bird would be at least interesting, i’m not sure pip would get destroyed. and rodman didn’t stop malone or kemp, but they weren’t dominating the whole series. he slowed them down a bit when he was defending them( longley often was on them!!!lmao).
    so i’m picking the bulls in 7…and this coming from a celtics fan…lol

  • Biggie Rection

    YES DIME! after yesterday’s kwame brown-type of a match up, u give us this beauty. so much to say, so lil time (i have a physio patient waiting for me…shes giving me the look MJ gives wen hes pissed) anyways, pip would lock bird down (but bird would still drop 20ish, on bad shooting tho) DJ zaps harper and the chief puts longley on the barbie. the C’s bench is also nice but the bulls are saved by THE REAL AND ONLY SUPERMAN IN BASKETBALL (turn in the nickname dwight)7 classic games. Bulls on top. $ wins MVP

  • Ian

    rafa i dont know bird played vs tougher (dirtier) players no way pippen slows them down.

    on rodman in the spurs vs bulls finals people were talking on how rodman would stop duncan (zerp chance of that happening) because of how he played malone and kemp but both of them had better numbers vs rodman than they did in their seasons avgs and shot a higher percentage so where does this rodman denfesive stopper thing comes in?? he was a dpoy true but all the games werent against elite fowards. and im not even a boston fan.

    bird mchale and parish would destroy pip rodman and the odd man out luc.

  • hucklebuck

    the closest team as gritty as the Celtics that the Bulls played in ’96 were the Knicks, and the Knicks were DEFINITELY not the ’86 Celtics. Celtics had grinders, leave ur body on the floor, break a bone to get the ball, fight you til the death attitude. the Bulls have MJ and Pippen (Rodman too) yes, BUT aside from them, the rest of the Bulls would get punked.

    Remember Bird and Laimbeer getting in it and throwing a ball right at Laimbeer, as well as the fight with Erving. Pippen and MJ, who knows how they would respond.

  • doc

    @hucklebuck-I know one thing.If the fans that watch today watched then.They would HATE everybody for talking shit and being dirty.

  • karizmatic

    The 1996 Bulls don’t lose a 7 game series to anyone. Bulls in 7.

  • bigdoggchad

    Bulls in six!

  • Claw

    Bulls would get killed in the frontcourt, really Luc Longley???

    The talk is Pippen on Bird but what about DJ on Jordan, that’d be a nice matchup. Jordan would still go off but it is a team game and the Celts would be just too much for the Bulls. Walton off the bench, he played well in the playoffs that year but the Bulls do have Wellington to match up with him…not!

    Celtics in 6.

  • John

    The best team ever, the 1996 72-10 Bulls. They would smoke Boston.

  • alimoe

    while i respect this celtics team, the 95-96 Bulls were the best squad of all time. bulls in 6

  • doc

    @claw-I dont think DJ would stop Mike much considering he scored 63 on that same Celtics team when he was 10 years dumber.

  • srb


    this would be a slug fest. a great team defense on Mike would be tough for him to get through at first. but clearly him and phil would figure out a way to get buckets.

    two smart teams with battle tested players. i pick celtics in 7 – biased of course so who knows. wennington/longley is quite the disadvantage though against parish.

  • jam

    Celts in 6. Bulls don’t have the bench that Boston had. Celtics are too big upfront. Even if MJ had a better series than Bird, which is not certain, Parish & McHale would destroy the Bulls. Plus, a healthy Walton off of the bench? Celtics take’em down.

  • Mr. A

    Bulls in 7.

  • Ric Hardwood

    Celtics in 7… MJ is the best player in the game, but Bird in his prime had Icewater in his veins… Celtics squad is deeper…

  • Celts Fan

    Celts in 6, maybe 7. That Bulls team was the best STATISTICAL team of all time, but at a much weaker era for the league.

    The top 7 teams of all time:
    1. Showtime Lakers (prolly the 87 team, but too lazy to check)
    2. The 80s Celtics (this one, which I think was the 40-1 home record team, maybe not tho, I was 3)
    3. Fo fo fo 6ers
    4. 96 Bulls
    5. 60s Celtics
    6. willis’ knicks,
    7. Wilt-era Lakers

    Having said all that, I’d take the Cs in 6 here. Their bench is MUCH better and they have more ways to beat you. I give the Bulls 2 games jumping on MJs/Scottie’s backs, but both of them have to play amazing and they still need help from the bench to pull one out. I respect the fuck outta Jordan (he’s the GOAT, no fuckin ?) but I just don’t see it happening…

  • Claw

    I said he would still go off, but he also wasn’t attacking the rim in 96 like he was in 86 and DJ couldn’t keep up with MJ when he was a rook but 10 years later he’d have a better shot, might keep him around 40 instead of 63.

    Celts had a dominant front line, 3 HOFers, by the 3rd game Pippen would get a migrane from trying to cover Bird and it would be all over.

  • rick773

    Bulls in 7 you the starting 5 is even….But Kukoc would be give they bench buckets their best bench player is a decrepit Bill Walton not to mention after 91 The Bulls have never lost any series with Mike and Pip(you can’t count 94-95)

  • Student Of The Game

    Damn… Once again, damn… Jordan and the Bulls in 7. cant tell you why… actually i can. two words, “His Airness.” Best series so far

  • longtimefan

    Having gone to 20 to 25 celtics games a year from the late 70s through the late 90s and also 4-5 knicks games a year in the 80s including playoffs I think the celtics would have won in 6. MJ would have def. gotten his but with the style of play at that time the celts front line
    both starting and bench would have worn down the bulls and eventually dominated. As far as the bulls being more athletic yes they were but so were most of the teams celtics faced- lakers, rockets,detroit and they did well against them. 86 celts were the most complete allaround team!! I have ever seen except maybe the lakers of the same period.

  • http://ampli2de.com Ampli2de

    I’m a Bulls fan, but I won’t give this one to my boyz so easily… I think it depends what rules are they playing under. If this is in the 80’s, I’ll take the Celtics, simply because they would beat the crap of MJ and Pip, and there would be no one else to make shots there… If this is played in the 90’s, when stricter rules went into effect, this would be no contest for the Bulls… But i agree, definitely the best fantasy finals matchup yet.

  • hooper5013

    JORDAN and BIRD’s stat lines are crazy! LOL Thats the reg for these guys though it’s pretty insane. And to think those aren’t even there best ones…

  • http://nbaroundtable.wordpress.com/ Dave

    Celtics in 6 — they’re destroy Chicago down in the paint.

    They’d have no answer for Mchale, Parish, Walton or Bird inside. That advantage is greater than the MJ matchup.

  • Clutch

    in 7
    A) MJ
    B) Defense. Rodamn Pippen and Jordan are three of the best defensive players ever. Rodman would deffinitly mess with mchale

  • Marcus

    Ok. First off the only factor that gives the Celitcs any chance was 1) They were in their primes 2) Frontcourt.

    Even with the bulls being older they were still far more athletic than the Celtics at the point (which is sad) The Bulls also ran the fast break quite often in 96 and If my memory serves correctly the celtics had a rough time with that type of play. Now I want everyone to go up to the stats of the starting line up. Check out Ainge, Dj and Birds APG. Now throw that out the window. Because you have two of the greatest perimeter defenders of all time… wait the greatest perimeter defenders of all time in MJ and Pippen and Harper was no slouch either. MJ would completely suffocate DJ before he even crossed half court. Harper would diminish Ainge. That comes down to Bird and Pippen. Bird would still get his just like Magic got his. What makes a factor is the energy Bird is going to have to put in to score. Now we get to the frontcourt. Parish/Walton/Mchale vs Rodman/Longely/Wennigton. Yes from an overall standpoint the Celtics frontcourt wipes the Bulls away… but wait. Not only do the Celtics frontcourt have to score but they have defend as well while our Bulls counterparts have only ONE JOB. Rebound and Defend. Mchale will still get his points but Rodman will get his rebounds. Parish and Walton still have to fight 2 seven footers. Regardless of their talent thats still a fight.

    Now finally lets switch sides. The Celtics D gave up a shit ton of points that year so lets see how they would do with the Bulls D

    96 Michael Jordan: At this point in his career he was mostly a jump shooter ( a damn good one) and every once and awhile running the fast break. So you are talking about the best jump shooter in the league squaring off against a shorter DJ? Or a shorter Ainge? Jordan would easily score 40+ in this affair. Could Bird defend Pippen? Not as well as Pippen could defend Bird thats for sure. Now here comes the bulls deciding factor. Something everyone overlooks. Toni Kukoc and Steve Kerr. Toni was a beast and I remember one finals he went off for 30+ points against the Jazz. 30+? In a finals game? Not bad not bad at all. Toni also led Croatia to the final round in the 91 Olympics against none other than our famous 92 dream team. Also Steve kerr and Toni Kukoc averaged over .400 3P shooting. Toni with .410 and kerr with .524. Thats insane. Who knows what would happen. I honestly feel its how well Rodman could hold Mchale and how well Pippen could hold Bird that would determine this game. Either way MJ is getting 40+

  • Marcus

    Excuse me *the Bulls Offense