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Open Thread: ‘The Last Dance’ Episode 9

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Given that most of Episode 9 will probably be devoted to the Pacers losing, use this thread as a safe space.

1998 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 6: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With only one viewing night left of ESPN’s 10-part documentary ‘The Last Dance,’ the Pacers are expected to feature heavily in Episode 9. After dispatching the Charlotte Hornets in a gentleman’s sweep, Chicago’s path to a sixth title is about to get more challenging, as a brutal, seven-game series against the “Best Pacers Team to Never Win a Championship” decides the Eastern Conference Finals.

“We all look at the Bulls as the standard model of success,” Reggie Miller says at the end of Episode 8. “They were considered the best at the time. But we felt, and I feel to this day, we were the better team. The whole thing is, there was whispers that this was going to be Mike’s last year. So, I think a perfect storm was brewing. In my mind, I was thinking... ‘This is it. You’re going to retire Michael Jordan.’”

At the risk of spoiling a 22-year-old sporting event, prepare to go through the agony of defeat in Game 7 (get a rebound!) while also reliving the highs of Reggie Miller’s game-winner in Game 4 and (hopefully) getting into the nitty-gritty of Scottie Pippen’s series-shifting defense on Mark Jackson.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and observations on Episode 9, airing at 9 PM on ESPN, as well as anything else Pacers-related in the comments section.

Here’s some links to get you ready for tonight’s action:

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote a spectacular oral history of sorts from Game 7, talking to all of the key actors and players involved to gauge the temperature of the room on both sides for what many of the Bulls now refer to as “the scariest game we ever faced.”

I wrote about Reggie Miller’s brilliance as a screener and why it was both necessary and not enough with a heavy emphasis on Chicago’s relentless defense.

Derrick McKey reflects on Game 7 against Michael Jordan and ‘The Last Dance’ Chicago Bulls

What if the Pacers beat MJ and the Bulls in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals?

A few days after each Last Dance episode, Kelly Dwyer’s “The Second Arrangement” documents the little things that the ESPN documentary leaves out in its hour-at-a-time bid to retell this story. If you don’t subscribe to his newsletter already, consider doing so with haste so that you can get more of the inside scoop, as well as some really great basketball writing, delivered fresh to your inbox.

Mike Prada wrote about why Reggie Miller would’ve been way better in today’s game

Can we get a separate documentary on the behind-the-scenes filming of Space Jam? In addition to providing the above-mentioned quote on “retiring” Michael Jordan, Reggie was also seen in last Sunday’s episodes playing pick-up with other stars at an elaborate, temporary gym erected at set of Space Jam, which Jordan apparently used as a rouse to scout his opposition. Incredible! The flip side of this, of course, is that the opposition also has an opportunity to scout you, but this nonetheless appears to be a win for Giannis’ “hate your rival” philosophy — at least as it pertains to historical precedence.

“The Chemistry Was Incredible”: An Oral History of the 1997-98 Pacers