MrSparkle wrote:Utah had great 1-5 chemistry and a deep bench. Pretty much every single player on the roster was a + defender, and they had high-IQ two-way shooters. In no era ever could you win 60+ NBA games with 2 good oldplayers and a bunch of scrubs.
To put it simply, they weren't scrubs.
It seems that way, but overall, Utah was 18th in DRtg out of 29 teams and was +.4 rDRtg.
It was a great offensive team but not a very good defensive one.
Eh, I take regular season DRtg with a grain of salt. Don't get me wrong, it does establish a team's ball-park defensive ability, but certain variables can wildly distort a team's "defensive potential," particularly in a 7-game playoff series, where match-ups and versatility become more important than pure defense.
Fact is, between Russell, Shandon and Morris, they had several wings to throw at the Bulls (and Lakers: Kobe/Eddie/Fox). Their worst defender Keefe was a multi-position forward with huge length. Sloan basically had the option of changing his starting line-up multiple times throughout the playoffs, based on mis-matches. Malone/Stockton were amongst the best 2-way players at their positions of all-time. And in that era, the clunky bigs like Ostertag played an important defensive role due to the hand-checking and more physical game.
They basically waltzed through those playoffs against the Lakers, Spurs and Rockets. All 3 were about 1 year off from their much better selves, but that's still a serious set of opponents to defend against. The Lakers had the #2 ORtg behind the Jazz and they were held WAY below their regular season averages in that series - that series was an ugly blowout, with the Lakers dropping from 105+ averages to scoring below 95 while Utah retained its hot scoring pace. That's where that match-up versatility comes into play. They had role-players to manage single assignments on the Lakers' big stars, and it allowed Stockton/Malone to crush their match-ups (Van Axel and Fisher shot absolute garbage percentages... Horry also couldn't get anything going against Karl).
That's what IMO some of these GMs don't get. My frustrating Bulls of the 2010-16 era... GarPax never understood that you need to find a way to occupy wings like Lebron and Wade on both ends to let Rose do his thing. By never investing more in wings and tweener forwards for positional versatility, Thibs had to keep playing 1-way player roulette with his rotations. 3 games into that series, Spoelstra figured out that all you had to do to clamp the 60-win Bulls was put Lebron on Rose, and their offense was just about done.
Anyway my point is that offense becomes more connected to defense in the playoffs. What's more important is being able to defend 5 positions competently and still have a balanced 4-5 man scoring threat, as opposed to just having a great defense (like those Thibs Bulls). That Utah team was plain balanced, with many defensive options and no "swiss-cheese." Who was there to really cut up and draw liabilities? Of course MJ schooled Russell but in the end, that was MJ. The defensive rating didn't really represent their defensive capability.