Most people in this section developed an awareness for the game of basketball during that second bulls run (pure observation on my part) and really don't realize how much tougher the league was just 10 years prior. Jordan was a far better player than he was in the 90's yet he couldn't sniff a ring until all of the old war horses of the era ran out of gas (baby boomer effect). So while the bulls are to be commended for showing up every night, the one thing that MJ always did, we must remember it was done in a league on the down slide.
Ainge vs. Harper- Ainge by a mile: Harper was a shell of himself athletically and even in his prime he never had the mental toughness to play winning basketball. Ainge would not only out athleticize Harper the constant mental pressure he would place on him (or Kerr when inserted), would force him to make several mistakes.
D.J. vs. Jordan- Jordan: D.J. would do a far better job defending this Jordan as his athleticism was nowhere near what it was in the 80's which is why by that point he spent a lot of time on the post. Well D.J. was a mule out there with long arms so those gimmie post up turnarounds Jordan had wouldn't be that easy & wouldn't demand a double team. DJ offensively would do what he always does; initiate the offense, penetrate when there and come up with a clutch play when the Celts need it.
Bird vs. Pippen- Bird by a mile: Scottie Pippen is the most overrated player of the 90's and while he was a great defender his mental weakness couldn't handle what Bird was going to bring. Not only was Bird a great player, he was also his era's biggest trash talker (guy makes Gary Payton seem like a saint) and would flat out verbally abuse Pippen to the point Phil would prob. rotate Jordan and Harper on Bird. Folks Pippen was a mental mess & when the squirrels in his mind started running those 19 garbage pts. he would average disappeared faster than Lamar Odom's productivity on the road.
McHale vs. Rodman- McHale not even close: I love Rodman, but that guy isn't a 4 and the only reason he was able to get away with it back then was the lack of mental toughness throughout the league (was still playing Piston ball). However, these are the Celtics and those tactics Detroit made famous were routinely used against them by THIS Celtics team. McHale would demand an auto double (which would send the bulls into a scramble) and still dominate this series.
Parish vs. Longley- Parish by a mile: Another huge problem for the Bulls would be that Parish would demand an auto double as well. Luc was a terrible post defender and was on the court only because of his offensive promise that never fully maxed out. Parish was longer, more athletic, far superior in the fundamentals, great defender and a whole lot meaner!
Bench- Celts by a Mile: A few of those names on the Bulls bench may look good (Kukoc, Kerr, Salley, Edwards), but the only one worth a salt under pressure was Kerr (Salley rarely played and Edwards didn't play & Kukoc was weaker than Pippen).
Coaching- Jones: Believe it or not Phil couldn't x & o his way out of his own house and that smug feeling that we've become accustomed to would be replaced with an oh crap persona.
Intestinal Fortitude- CELTICS: The Bulls only had two (that saw minutes) mentally tough players in Jordan & Rodman, while everyone that saw meaningful minutes on the Celtics was a battle proven player that did whatever it took to win.
All the Celtics will do is force Jordan to beat them individually (which he couldn't do in his prime) and not allow the other players to get garbage pts. off of his gravy train. No other starter for the Bulls could consistently get their own quality shot and this would kill them. Heck we could even say Pippen could get his own shot (which would be a lie) and that would still leave 3 players out on the court that needed to be spoon fed buckets. Compare that with the Celts who had 5 starters that could take the ball & score on their own without Bird's help.
Celtics win it easy 4-1