What if? Warriors beat Bulls in epic series

A matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls would probably end well for the Warriors. (Jeff Chiu/John Bazemore/AP)

Now that Stephen Curry and the Warriors are off to the best start in NBA history, the hot question is whether they’re on a par with Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls — the only team to win as many as 70 games in the regular season.

As the only person to be part of both teams, Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows best, but he ain’t sayin’. So Balls did the next best thing — it played a best-of-seven series between the teams courtesy of WhatIfSports, the Fox Sports simulation engine. The Bulls had the homecourt advantage by virtue of their best-ever record.
Now cue up the national anthem…

Game 1, Chicago: Bulls 106, Warriors 97. Too much Jordan (27 points), Scottie Pippen (32) and Dennis Rodman (19 rebounds). Curry and Klay Thompson combine to shoot 11 of 34 in the field.

Game 2, Chicago: Warriors 84, Bulls 82. The Warriors barely avoid a 2-0 deficit, as Jordan (17 points, nine rebounds) misses a jump shot with 6 seconds left in a one-point game. Andrew Bogut comes up big for the winners — 18 rebounds, 14 points, four blocked shots.

Game 3, Oakland: Bulls 113, Warriors 97. The visitors grab 17 offensive rebounds and drain 50.5 percent of their field goal tries to reclaim control of the series. Pippen scores a game-high 21 points.
Game 4, Oakland: Warriors 95, Bulls 85. The Splash Brothers go off for 51 points (Thompson 28, Curry 23) to even the series again.

Game 5, Chicago: Bulls 100, Warriors 88. The Bulls dominate the second period (30-9) and never look back the rest of the way. Reserve Toni Kukoc scores 21, while Jordan finishes with 19 points and three steals.

Game 6, Oakland: Warriors 90, Bulls 85. On the brink of elimination, Curry scores 10 of his game-high 28 points in the final two minutes, five seconds. Jordan’s supporting cast lets him down — only he and Pippen score in double figures.

Game 7, Chicago: Warriors 94, Bulls 92. After a Jordan tip-in ties the score, Thompson banks in a shot at the buzzer and the Warriors become the greatest of alllll time. Jordan (game-high 30 points) tries to will victory but finds that he can’t do it alone, as the Warriors overcome a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Draymond Green saves his best for last — 13 points, 19 rebounds, four blocked shots, six steals.

Jordan lose a Game 7 at home? Preposterous, some would say. Yet Balls has seen both teams play, and while it’s difficult if not impossible to compare those from different eras, it doesn’t think the outcome is far-fetched at all.

In Jordan and Pippen, the Bulls have two of the best three players, but the Warriors are the far deeper and more athletic team. If the Bulls have a matchup problem, it’s in the backcourt. What Kerr does admit is that he and Ron Harper could be exploited defensively, and the Warriors have the personnel to do it.

Then again, these teams are so drop-dead good, a best-of-99 series might not settle the debate.

SIX DEGREES OF FEERICK: Thanks to the Warriors, the 1948-49 Washington Capitols received more nationwide publicity in the last few weeks than when they were in business.

The Capitols of the old BAA (which became the NBA) were one of two teams that got off to 15-0 starts. What most fans don’t know is they had a strong connection to the Bay Area, as Fred Scholari (USF), Bob Feerick and Dick O’Keefe (Santa Clara) were team members.

Feerick was the Capitols’ top scorer and playmaker, who went on to serve as Santa Clara coach for 12 seasons. Later, he became the first Warriors coach on the West Coast after the franchise relocated from Philadelphia.

After one season on the bench, Feerick moved to the front office, where he had stints as Warriors general manager and director of player personnel. He was instrumental in the draft selections of future Hall of Famer Keith (Jamal) Wilkes and All-Star Phil Smith, who helped lead the team to its first NBA title in the Bay Area only months later.

WHERE IS THE LOVE?: To look at the record book, one would never know that Warriors interim boss Luke Walton had much to do with the record start.

Because of an outdated league guideline, only the official head coach is credited with a win or a loss, whether he’s in the building or Nova Scotia. So even though Kerr hasn’t spent one second on the bench this season, his record has been padded just the same, which has made for some good-natured barbs between the two in recent weeks.

C’mon, the least the league can do is make the head coach pay for the technical fouls while he’s gone.

CAL KEEPS PACE: There is another unbeaten basketball team in the Bay Area, you know.

On Monday, Cal (4-0) laid waste to Sam Houston State, 89-63, as Tyrone Wallace led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Reserve Nick Kerr created the biggest uproar in the second half, when he came off the bench to a loud ovation. He’s the son of the Warriors’ part-time coach.

Cal coach Cuonzo Martin has preached defense since the jump start, and at least against lesser competition, his players have responded to it. Opponents shot less than 40 percent in the field in every game.
No. 14 Cal will get a better test later this week, when it meets San Diego State in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational tonight followed by a date with either West Virginia or Richmond on Friday.

WOWIE IN MAUI: Chris Mullin’s St. John’s team got burned badly by Vanderbilt in its Maui Invitational opener Monday, 92-55, but the trip wasn’t without at least one highlight.

Without so much as a warm-up, Mullin and assistant Mitch Richmond matched each other swish for swish, bank for bank in a game of Maui (aka Horse) on an outdoor court. So impressed was ESPN commentator Bill Walton by the former Warriors dead-eyes, he called the performance one of the top three highlights in his career, although because Walton exaggerates a lot, it was more like the top 300 probably.

Anyway, wouldn’t it be kind of fun for the Warriors to sign Mullin and Richmond to 10-day contracts and let them play play pop-a-shot in garbage time?

JUST SAYIN’: If some Seattle Seahawks rookie named Thomas Rawls wants to run for 209 yards, the most ever allowed by a 49ers’ defense, that’s one thing. But when he sings “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” after it’s over, well, that’s a bit too much.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

In Other News