“We’ll be fine, today is just a bump in the road”- this is the statement Michael Jordan made about the loss of game three going into the upcoming game four against the Indiana Pacers. This may have been a bump in the road to Micheal, but for the Pacers, it was putting a block on a potential sweep.
The Chicago Bulls have played the hardest, most challenging teams like the bad boy Pistons and their rivalry team, New York Knicks. None can compete with the challenging playoff series of 98′ the Bulls had to endure against the Pacers. The competitiveness and drive was intense every game in the playoffs. Even Micheal stated almost every game against them; he came out with a new scratch.
Reggie Miller states he did some trash-talking to Micheal when he was having a cold quarter. There weren’t too many players who challenged prime Micheal Jordan, but Reggie Miller was not afraid. Reggie was a shooting guard on the Pacers who gained a reputation early on being the primary scoring threat that can take the team to the playoffs.
The most memorable game in the 98′ series was game 4. It was an away game for the Bulls. Homecourt advantage can jolt a team’s confidence, but with prime Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman, these fans taunting chants didn’t seize them. The game was intense from the start of the first quarter. An immense number of crossovers, post fades, layups and three-pointers from the Pacers to tie up this game as 4th quarter proceeds. It was common to get a few bruises playing, but Micheal got severely injured and ended up needing stitches above his eye. This was the tone for the fourth quarter; the Pacers were coming for blood. There were six seconds left, and the Bulls were leading by one (94-93). Phil Jackson called a play to control the boards (meaning be the team who gets the rebounds). Pacers didn’t use a time out at the start of the match. Pacers’ possession, inbounding the ball, was Derek McKee looking for Reggie Miller, who had a hot hand during the game. Scottie Pippen tipped the ball, turning over the play with Bulls now having possession. The Pacers had stopped their play intentionally fouling Scottie when inbounding.
Scottie had a great game but was only 2-5 at the free-throw line. He missed both free throws at a pivotal moment in the game. The ball was knocked out of bounds going up for the rebound now the Pacers have an advantage.
With two seconds left, the defense was tight on the Pacers. The Bulls were not shaken by the score and knew what play to run. Reggie was the hot scorer during the game, and everyone knew to pass to him. The Pacers’ defense plan was to hold Micheal back from switching onto Reggie. The ball was inbounded with 2 seconds left, and Harper was on Miller, Micheal was on Dent. Reggie knew the switch was occurring and split between the two transitions opening up a lane to catch and shoot the ball. To open up that lane, in Miller’s own words, he “went straight to his chest and lightly shoved him [Micheal] out of the way,” and the rest was history. Reggie had an open clutch three-pointer leading the game. It’s now .7 seconds left with the score 94-96, Pacers lead. The game was not over, and it was enough time for one more play. Everyone on the Bulls knew who to pass to in this time, Michael Jordan. Micheal gets the ball, pulled up, and got the shot off in time for a three. In the Last dance documentary, Miller said he was under the basket during the play, and from his perception, the ball was going in. The catch went in and out, spinning off the rim, handing a loss to the Bulls tieing the series. These two plays are one of the top 10 most clutch performances from the series still talked about. It showed that Miller was an underrated character slowly blossoming to be the best, and even the black Jesus, prime Micheal Jordan, had off games or underwhelming performances.
Though the last dance documentary has ended, you can rewatch the series on ESPN+ or any sports broadcasting streaming services.