Orlando Magic Rewatchables: Unanswerable Questions from the 1995 Orlando Magic-Chicago Bulls series

As we revisit the Orlando Magic's series win over the Chicago Bulls, defeating Michael Jordan stands the test of history. (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan)
As we revisit the Orlando Magic's series win over the Chicago Bulls, defeating Michael Jordan stands the test of history. (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan) /
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Did the Magic win the series or did the Bulls lose the series?

This is a question that feels like a bit of a contradiction. In order for a team to lose a series, another team has to take the opportunity presented to them. The Orlando Magic at nearly every turn took the opportunities the Chicago Bulls left for them.

To be clear then, the Magic made the plays to win their four games. The Bulls did not.

In that sense, Orlando won the series. Incontrovertibly won the series.

But it is shocking to revisit this series and see just how close the Bulls were to winning this series. This was not an “easy” six-game series. The Magic were not in control for the majority of the games in this series.

And knowing what the Bulls would become in the league and knowing this is Michael Jordan, it is hard not to think that the Bulls left something on the table.

In a 4-2 series, two games swing things the other way. In Game 1, the Bulls had the ball up one with the shot clock off when Nick Anderson stole the ball from Michael Jordan. In Game 6, the Bulls had an eight-point lead with three and a half minutes to play when the Magic went on a 14-0 run to close the game.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Even in Game 5, the Magic used a 3-point burst from Dennis Scott to pull away in the third quarter. And Game 3 saw the Magic make plays down the stretch in a back-and-forth game.

Series turn on the littlest things. the Magic got a miraculous shot from Rashard Lewis in Game 3 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals that helped them get to overtime. But that series, the Magic were the clearly dominant and better team. They had control of nearly every game and really only stole Game 1 on a 20-point comeback.

This series saw the Magic steal plenty of games. The Bulls led at the end of almost every first quarter. It was perhaps determination and confidence that ultimately pushed the Magic ahead. They made the plays to take the game.

But then again . . .

Jordan had two turnovers at the end of Game 1. Scottie Pippen missed free throws at the end of Game 3. And there was the 14-0 run to end Game 6.

Phil Jackson made plenty of tactical errors. There was no reason Scottie Pippen should not have been defending Anfernee Hardaway the entire series. B.J. Armstrong played only 27.7 minutes per game despite averaging 12.5 points per game (third on the team). He had some big moments throughout the series to stake the Bulls the lead.

It was almost as if the Bulls relied too heavily on Jordan and Pippen to will their way to the series win. There was an element of hubris throughout the whole series from the Bulls. They dared Horace Grant to beat them and he did.

The Magic took advantage of that hubris and won the games. The Bulls though might have lost the series.