The 1997-98 NBA season was a special one. The Chicago Bulls were looking to win its third consecutive NBA championship for the second time in franchise history. The Bulls had the best player in the league in Michael Jordan, and the team formed a dynasty.
During the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls matched up against the Indiana Pacers, which was a battle. The series went to seven games, and the Pacers had a chance to stop the Bulls from winning another title.
The 1997-98 Indiana Pacers
The Pacers were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference during the 1997-98 season. The team had one of the best players in the NBA in Reggie Miller. Miller, who was a seasoned veteran at the time, was one of the leaders on that Pacers team. The team also had a good supporting cast. Also, on that team was Hall of Fame player Chris Mullin, Rik Smits, and Mark Jackson, to name a few.
The team had a lot of players on that team who were experienced. The youngest player on that team was Austin Croshere, who was 22-years-old. At the end of the regular season, the Pacers had the third-best record in the Eastern Conference going 58-24. Going into the playoffs, the team had one goal on its mind, and that was the NBA Finals. Though the Bulls were the favorites that year to make it back to the finals, the Pacers dominated in the first few rounds of the playoffs.
In the first round, they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-1, and in the Conference Semifinals, they defeated the New York Knicks 4-1. Going into the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers had a lot of momentum and felt that they could beat the Bulls.
The 1998 Eastern Conference Finals
The Bulls and Pacers did not disappoint in this series. The Bulls jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and it looked as if they were going to run away with the series. But the Pacers did not give up and were able to win the next two games to even the series. It seemed as if both teams were evenly matched in the series and that it was going to come down to the final game.
The series would eventually be nodded up at 3-3, and the winner would advance to the 1998 NBA finals. The Pacers were looking to stop Michael Jordan and the Bulls from advancing to a third straight NBA final. During Game 7, it was a close one from start to finish. The Pacers gave it all they had, but in the end, the Bulls overcame the Pacers 88-83. The Pacers fell one game away from advancing to the finals.
The Bulls would win its third straight
After the Bulls defeated the Pacers in an epic series, they would go on to win their third straight NBA championship and sixth overall in franchise history. That could have never happened if the Pacers had won that final game.
Looking back at that Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, Reggie Miller, the team’s leader, and the best player was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. If he could have found a way to score in the last quarter, the Pacers could have had a good chance at winning the game.