Bulls observations: Peak Scottie Pippen and a fun broadcast highlight Bulls rout

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The 90s Bulls don't lose games in the first round. Observations from a win that capped a convincing series sweep of the Miami Heat.

Scottie did Scottie things

Much was made of Michael Jordan enduring back spasms throughout this one. When Jordan wasn't dicing the Heat up for 26 points and three resounding 3-pointers, the camera often fixated on him getting treated on the sideline, and even grimacing in pain from the bench on occasion.

It was a game he needed a lift and Scottie Pippen provided it, notching the 17th triple double of his career with 22 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks. This was billed as the Pippen's game coming in, and he delivered. Even up 20+ points in the second half, he was diving on loose balls and teleporting from spot to spot to snare contested rebounds. He was everywhere at the heart of the Bulls' smothering, switchy defense.

 

Phil Jackson didn't let up in the waning moments of the blowout, either.

Pippen capped an incredible series in Game 3 with one of the better performances of his playoff career. The more I watch of him, the more calling him Michael's ‘Robin' feels misguided (especially given his individual and the Bulls' team success when Jordan first retired). Pippen was his own man - a picture of grace, length, athleticism and basketball savvy whose game would clearly translate to any matchup or era. So good and so fun to watch.

Fun game for the broadcast crew

Sometimes the most fun part of laughers such as this one is the free-wheeling commentary they evoke from announcers. Tom Dore and Johnny "Red" Kerr were a delightful listen tonight, especially late in the game when the Bulls' subs reigned.

And the halftime show featured a classically nostalgic Norm Van Lier monologue. Rest in power, Norm (and Johnny):

No handshakes

After being thumped by 21 in Game 3 (following a 31 point defeat in Game 2), the Heat sulked off their home floor without so much as a passing glance at the visiting Bulls - much less a handshake.

That's unsurprising. This series, which was contentious throughout, amounted to a whooping, both by way of the eye-test and the numbers. Of the Bulls' six title runs in the 1990s, they never lost a game in the first round. The defense was as stifling as you could imagine for the final two-and-a-half games of this one. 

 

Ron Harper addressed the tension between the teams in his walk-off interview, saying in good humor: "Any time you talk, your actions must show for it… You know, they can go enjoy a trip, a nice vacation, and relax. Our team gonna keep playing and we'll keep our thing going."

So 90s it hurts. Talk your talk, Miami. And enjoy the links.

Passing thoughts

  • Dennis Rodman changed his hair from vibrant red to bright yellow between Games 2 and 3 of this series. A treasure.

  • Dick Bavetta hasn't aged a day.

  • Jordan's dominance in spurts tonight stood out, especially given how hampered he appeared to be by his back injury. He was absolutely unstoppable in the first half, when the Bulls built the bulk of their commanding lead.

  • Alonzo Mourning finally got it going in this one, leading all scorers with 30, but it was too little too late. When it counted, the Bulls' frontcourt clamped him. Luc Longley is so underrated.

Next up: Game 1 of the second round vs. Patrick Ewing, John Starks and the New York Knicks Monday night at 7 p.m.

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Bulls observations: Peak Scottie Pippen and a fun broadcast highlight Bulls rout originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago