We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
Today: Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals between the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets
The NBA of the 1990s was dominated by one team, and if you don’t know what squad I’m talking about, I’d love to suggest a 10-part documentary. The Chicago Bulls ran the league from 91-93, winning three consecutive championships, and then again from 96-98, when they did it again. However, for two years, while Jordan played baseball and the Bulls struggled to regain their footing, the NBA championship was wide open.
The 1994 NBA Finals showcased two big stars getting their moment in the spotlight, as Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks took on Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. While the series went the distance, with the Rockets coming out on top, the marquee matchup of Ewing vs. Olajuwon wasn’t much of a contest. Putting up 26.9 points a game, and shooting 50% from the field, Olajuwon dominated the Georgetown product and finally ascended to NBA royalty.
The 1994-95 season wasn’t as pleasant as the previous year, as the Rockets stumbled in their title defense. However, the midseason acquisition of Olajuwon’s former college teammate Clyde Drexler provided the boost that Clutch City needed. So with Olajuwon and the rejuvenated Rockets back for more, could they repeat their ring? Could they do it against a young Orlando Magic team that’s much greener than the established Knicks?
The Orlando Magic were barely able to walk before they could run, but that’s what two back-to-back first overall picks will do to a team. With Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway running the show, and the Bulls struggling to find their way without Jordan, the Magic ascended to the top seed of the Eastern Conference with a 57-25 record.
And now, the Magic are within striking distance of franchise’s first title. With their core of O’Neal, Hardaway, Horace Grant, and the franchise’s first draft pick in Nick Anderson, do the young Magic stand a chance against a seasoned veteran roster like the Rockets?
Keep a close eye on this one. Things get bumpy towards the end.
Let’s just say that someone goes 0-for-4 from the charity stripe in a crucial situation and that certain someone’s team gets swept in four games.
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