I have to admit, this Finals matchup is a little surprising to me. I thought for sure 2018 was going to edge 1995 in the Semifinals and we’d have 1994 vs. 2018 in the Finals, but alas, Rockets fans have spoken, and the 1995 squad advanced instead in our closest matchup of the tournament so far.
So as we come to our last matchup of our imaginary tourney, we’re going to do things a little bit different. We’re still going to do a fan vote to decide the winner, but since we’ve written up both of these teams several times now and the only major differences in squads is swapping out Otis Thorpe from 1994 and adding Clyde Drexler to 1995 (remember, Vernon Maxwell has not been suspended from our pretend league), we’re going to try something a little different.
Borrowing an idea from SB Nation main, I’ve decided to use Whatifsports.com to simulate a seven-game series between these two teams and post the results. But again, that’s just for fun... to see what it might actually look like if these two teams actually played. You will still pick the official winner in a poll.
Our opening contest takes place with the top-seeded 1994 team playing as the home squad, though all games are taking place at The Summit. What was anticipated as a hotly contested opening game was tight for only a half. 1994 went into the break holding a slim 56-51 lead, but they came out in the second half behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Robert Horry and turned Game 1 into a 120-98 blowout victory.
The Dream led 1994 with 28 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks, and a steal on 13-22 shooting, while Horry finished with 18 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and 2 blocks on 7-12 from the field and 2-3 from beyond the arc. 1994 also got 16 points and 13 boards from Otis Thorpe and 16 points on a perfect 3-3 from deep from Kenny Smith. They shot 54 percent collectively as a team and went 7-15 from three for the game.
1995 was also led by Olajuwon, who finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal. He shot 8-16 from the field. 1995 also got 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists from Clyde Drexler, 12 points from Kenny Smith, and a surprise 10 points off the bench from Tracy Murray. They shot 48 percent from the field and 8-20 from deep, but turned the ball over 21 times in a sloppy performance.
1994 leads series 1-0
1994 came out looking to take control of the series, and early on, it looked like a second consecutive blowout, with 1994 using a balanced attack to build a 57-43 halftime lead. Slowly but surely, however, 1995 began chipping away at the lead behind Olajuwon, Drexler, and a deep-shooting Mario Elie. In fact, they battled all the way back to take the lead late in the game, only for Vernon Maxwell, who hit 2 of 1994’s only 4 three-pointers for the game with under a minute to play, including the game-winner as time expired to give 1994 a 95-94 win.
1994 continued to move the ball well, racking up 27 assists on 34 buckets, and finished with six players in double figures. Olajuwon had 17 points, 11 boards, 6 assists, and a block, while Otis Thorpe dominated underneath to the tune of 13 points and 15 boards. Robert Horry had another strong game with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, Kenny Smith finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Mad Max also finished with 11 points to go along with 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. Mario Elie rounded out the double-figire scorers with 10 points and 5 boards. 1994 shot just 43 percent from the field for the game, but they dominated the boards, winning that battle 53-39, which was the difference in the game.
1995 was again the more top-heavy team, with Olajuwon leading the way with 26 points, 9 boards, 2 assists, 6 blocks, and a steal, while Clyde Drexler had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Mario Elie pitched in 16 points on 3-6 shooting from deep, and Sam Cassell finished with 10 points and 3 assists off the bench.
So far, it’s been 1994’s greater depth that’s been the difference maker.
1994 leads series 2-0
This is essentially a do or die game for 1995, who would be down 3-0 should they lose as the series switched home teams, and boy, did their star power shine through. After an uptight and slow-shooting start saw them fall behind 43-30 at halftime, Olajuwon and Drexler both caught fire to spearhead a massive second half that saw them score 71 points after the break. 1994 wasn’t shooting well enough to keep up, and 1995 Dream dominated 1994 Dream on the way to a 101-89 victory.
1995 was led by Olajuwon, who finished with 30 points on 11-15 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals, while Drexler finished with 25, the vast majority after the break, and he also pitched in 10 rebounds, 4 assists, a block, and a steal. They were the only players in double figures, though Robert Horry led the team with 7 assists.
1994 again had a more balanced attack, though Olajuwon struggled against the older version of himself, going just 6-21 from the field for 13 points, 7 boards, 4 assists, and a block. They also got 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists from Vernon Maxwell, who also hit three triples, 12 points, 6 assists, and 3 triples from Kenny Smith, and Otis Thorpe finished with 10 points and 7 boards. They once again outrebounded 1994, but they shot just 42 percent to 50 percent for 1995.
This series is quickly playing out as the better star power of 1995 versus the more balanced attack of 1994.
1994 leads series 2-1
This wasn’t a must-win, the calling card of 1995, so what do you think happens here? If you said a blowout by 1994, you would be correct. They jumped out to quick 27-17 lead after one quarter and never let up, once again riding a slew of double-figure scorers and stronger rebounding to down the 1995 team 107-92.
Hakeem was top dog with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while Vernon Maxwell continued his great series by pitching in 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 more three-pointers. Mario Elie finished with 16 points on 6-7 shooting and a perfect 2-2 from deep, while 12 points and 8 boards from Otis Thorpe and 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals from Robert Horry rounded out the scoring. They outshot 1994 from the field 48 percent to 43 percent.
1995 continued to get big play from Dream and Drex, with Olajuwon going for 22 points, 12 boards, 6 assists, 4 blocks, and a steal, while Drexler tallied 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block to help lead the way. The duo also combined for 14 turnovers, however (7 apiece), and with once again no other teammates stepping up, there was no one to help pick up the slack. 1995 did shoot 10-23 from deep, including 2 triples off the bench from Scott Brooks (9 points), but it wasn’t enough.
Their backs are now against the wall, which is when 1995 were often at their best.
1994 leads series 3-1
1995 once again came out sluggish, which has been an issue all series, while 1994 came out firing on all cylinders, especially from deep, as they hit 4-10 from beyond the arc in the first quarter to jump out to a quick 30-17 lead. However, the game pace slowed down a bit after that, and 1995 Olajuwon was at his absolute best, going time and again directly at his younger self and at Otis Thorpe, fouling out 1994 Dream and putting 5 personals on OT. 1995 won every other quarter of basketball and were finally able to put the clamps down defensively on their way to a 106-93 win.
1995 Dream had his best game of the series so far, going for 34 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and 2 steals on 14-25 shooting, while Clyde Drexler continued to play Robin to the tune of 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists on 8-14 from the field. 1995 finally got another player in double figures, as Robert Horry finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, as he hit 2-4 from deep. Kenny Smith also pitched in 7 points and 8 assists.
1994 also had a strong game from Dream before fouling out, as he finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks, and 3 steals, shooting 9-19 from the field. Kenny Smith had 13 points on 3 triples to go along with 4 assists, while Robert Horry and Mario Elie put up 10 points apiece. Otis Thorpe had 8 points and 12 boards, but there was practically no one else on the stat sheet, as Vernon Maxwell came crashing back to earth with just 4 points on 2-10 shooting, and the team as whole shot just 39 percent for the game (10-29 from three).
1995 has made it a series again with a huge road win, though they still face one loss to elimination.
1994 leads series 3-2
Another elimination game for 1995, and to no one’s surprise, they responded how they always have: with a win. It was a tight game throughout, with 1994 holding a slim 47-46 lead at the break, but with Dream and Drex doing their thing, it was Mario Elie who stepped up in the third quarter to hit back-to-back threes that broke the game open, and 1995 was able to hold on down the stretch despite a furious fourth-quarter comeback by 1994 led by Vernon Maxwell. 1994 got within three behind Max before Clyde Drexler drilled a triple in the game’s closing moments to tie the series for 1995 with a 98-92 victory.
1995’s dynamic duo continued to pace the scoring, with Dream finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Drex tallied 22 points, 15, rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 massive threes. Mario Elie finished with 14 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals, and whenever 1995 has received a little added punch, they’ve been able to pull it off.
1994 was led by Mad Max, who bounced back from his worst game of the series to pace the team in scoring with 22 points on 9-23 from the field to go along with 2 rebounds and 4 assists. Olajuwon finished with 14 points on just 6-18 from the field to go along with 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal. Kenny Smith pitched in 17 points on 3 triples, while Robert Horry had 10 points, and Otis Thorpe finished with 8 points and 14 boards. 1994 lost the battle of the boards for the first time all series, were outshot from the field (44 percent to 41 percent) and also from deep (8-25 for 1995, 9-29 for 1994).
1995 now has to do it just one more time for yet another epic comeback, and all the momentum appears in their corner.
Series tied 3-3
Well, this one’s for all the marbles, and one of the biggest factors so far is that 1995 Hakeem has been outplaying 1994 Dream for the majority of the contests. In addition, 1995 has been able to take 1994 out of their comfort zone by forcing them to shoot a large amount of three over the last few games. In what was anticipated to be a tightly played game, the 1994 team instead got back to basics, pounding the ball inside to their league MVP and his sturdy frontcourt mate Otis Thorpe. These guys owned the paint, springing 1994 to a 56-38 halftime lead, from which 1995 never recovered. After averaging 25 three attempts per game over the last two losses, 1994 attempted just 8 and shot over 50 percent from the field. While 1995 went cold, shooting just 7-30 on the night from deep. 1994 brings home the win, 109-91.
1994 was led by Hakeem, who played his best game of the series for ‘94, going for 31 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals on 13-24 shooting. Thorpe also had his best game, finishing with 25 points and 8 boards on 12-18 from the field. Mario Elie brought the scoring punch from the perimeter, while Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell, and Robert Horry all finished with 6 assists. 1994 had 32 assists on 44 buckets, consistently working the ball inside.
1995 Hakeem led the way for his squad with 18 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks, while Clyde the Glide had 17 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal. Sam Casell pitched in 11 points and 3 assists, while no one else on 1995 did anything of note.
1994 closed it out behind their greater depth for a 4-3 series win. 1995’s luck finally ran out. But that could all change with your vote!!
Series Stats Notables
Here are your top notable stats from each team.
Hakeem Olajuwon - 20.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.1 blocks, 1.1 steals, 3.8 turnovers, 44 percent field goal shooting
Otis Thorpe - 13.2 points, 11 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 57.3 percent field goal shooting
Vernon Maxwell - 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.1 turnovers, 36.7 percent field goal shooting, 11-42 from three
Hakeem Olajuwon - 25.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3 assists, 3.3 blocks, 1.3 steals. 4.5 turnovers, 53 percent field goal shooting
Clyde Drexler - 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 3.3 turnovers, 47.5 percent field goal shooting, 7-30 from three
Do you agree with the sim? Who wins this matchup?
This poll is closed