Who were the real Playoff MVPs of 1995?

With the lockout in full swing our analysts have been antsy. We’re happy to answer fan requests for historical fact checking*. Today’s request comes via a Tweet from Mosi Platt of the Miami Heat Index:

@NerdNumbers You have your assignment RT @NBAHistory: Announcer Bob Neal: “Horace Grant is the MVP for the Magic in this series thus far.” @NBATV NOW (Orl/Chi, Gm 6, ’95 EC Semis)

The 1995 playoffs were pretty crazy. The Orlando Magic took down the Bulls despite Michael Jordan returning. The Houston Rockets shocked the world and won it all despite being a lowly sixth seed. Two surprising facts came from these two series.

Horace Grant was the MVP of the Magic-Bulls Series

Don't look back, they might be gaining!

In a series with Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, it’s surprising to realize the best player on the court was indeed Horace Grant. Here was the breakdown in terms of Wins:

  1. Horace Grant (Orlando Magic) 251 Minutes, 0.293 WP48, 1.53 Wins Produced
  2. Shaquille O’Neal (Orlando Magic) 238 Minutes, 0.265 WP48, 1.31 Wins Produced
  3. Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls) 248 Minutes, 0.221 Wp48, 1.14 Wins Produced
  4. Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) 254 Minutes, 0.192 Wp48, 1.02 Wins Produced
  5. Anfernee Hardaway (Orlando Magic) 246 Minutes, 0.133 WP48, 0.68 Wins Produced

Bob Neal was speaking the truth. Horace Grant was better (just barely) than Shaq, and together Shaq and Horace rant circles around Scottie and Michael. Of course Horace and Shaq’s great play may have come from playing a team lacking bigs. Against the Rockets they crumbled when faced with Hakeem’s Finals MVP performance. . . or did they? That brings us to surprise fact number two.

Clyde Drexler was the real finals MVP in 1995

Well at least they both got a trophy.

We can maybe give Hakeem some credit for slowing down Shaq in the finals. That said, Clyde’s performance was inspired. Here’s how the finals went down:

  1. Clyde Drexler (Houston Rockets) 162 Minutes, 0.342 WP48 1.15 Wins Produced
  2. Robert Horry (Houston Rockets) 187 Minutes, 0.213 WP48, 0.83 Wins Produced
  3. Mario Elie (Houston Rockets) 161 Minutes, 0.199 WP48, 0.69 Wins Produced
  4. Shaquille O’Neal (Orlando Magic) 180 Minutes, 0.176 WP48, 0.66 Wins Produced
  5. Anfernee Hardaway (Orlando Magic) 172 Minutes, 0.179 WP48, 0.64 Wins Produced
  6. Nick Anderson (Orlando Magic) 161 Minutes, 0.160 WP48, 0.54 Wins Produced
  7. Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets) 179 Minutes, 0.122 WP48, 0.46 Wins Produced
  8. Horace Grant (Orlando Magic) 168 Minutes, 0.084 WP48, 0.30 Wins Produced

Sadly Horace Grant’s greatness disapeared in the finals. But the story wasn’t Hakeem outplaying the bigs of Orlando; the real story was how Clyde Drexler and Robert Horry destroyed the Magic from the wings.

With no NBA in front of us for the foreseeable future, it is fun to go back to the past. Let us know if you have any weird stories you want us to look into and — provided we have time and there are no developments with the lockout — maybe we’ll look into it.

-Dre

* Don’t worry Mark, I haven’t forgotten about the Spurs, they’re on deck.

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