3. Indiana Pacers
It is well known how big of a rival the Pacers started to become for a small bit of time against the Bulls in the late 1990’s. Just as the Bulls were on the way down in the post-Jordan years, the Pacers were starting on the up and up. The Pacers and Bulls would meet in a vital 1998 Eastern Conference Finals series that would go back and forth every step of the way.
The Pacers were powered by a star shooting guard, all-time great sharpshooter, and eventual Hall-of-Famer, in the 6-foot-7 Reggie Miller. Both Miller and Jordan are known as two of the greatest trash talkers in NBA history, which made these entertaining Pacers-Bulls regular season and playoff series so much fun.
During the 1997-98 season, the Pacers held a record of 2-2 in the regular season and obviously 3-4 in the playoff against the Bulls. The constant back and forth series carried from the very beginning of the regular season all the way through to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls would win the first and last regular season meetings and the Pacers would get the two in the middle.
And in the playoffs, the home team would wind up winning every game in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miller was solid for the Pacers, but didn’t do enough alongside the standout frontcourt pairing of Rik Smits and Dale Davis to get past the Bulls in game seven.
More specifically, Miller would have one of his better regular season runs in 1997-98. He nabbed his fourth career NBA All-Star Game selection while averaging 19.5 points per game, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.