1997 NBA Finals Game 5 “The Flu Game” Analysis

This will not be a piece of stating the obvious, we all know what Michael Jordan went through prior to the game and how he performed during the game which dubbed this game “The Flu Game”, however with modern methods of analysis there have been points overlooked and that have been seen utterly different.

  • This was the first game to my recollection wherein coaching and scouting staff really started looking at ball deterrence that I take a personal interest in.
  • Unlike today’s game, the number of shots taken is very much highly contested shots, there was just one shot taken during this NBA Finals game which should not surprise us (that of Ron Harper across the whole game):


Video Breakdown of the four main players:

Scotty Pippen was the player that played the most minutes given that MJ was not able to play +35 minutes.

MJ still miraculously managed to score 38 pts in 13 FGM across the game which got Chicago to a whole new level of utilizing the triangle offense in the process and ball movement offensively.

In the era of Jordan, the fact that Stockton became all-time assist leader was amazing, he only recorded 5 assists in this game but the more controversial side of his game was the fact that he actually turned the ball over 3 times which was unusual for a ball-handler of his caliber.

With 19 pts for the Jazz in less than 35 minutes, Malone was the predominant force for the opposing team. I still believe that if Malone would have been able to convert 2 of the four missed FTs that he had in the game the momentum shift for Utah could have happened. (Lets also not forget that Byron Russell actually played the most minutes with the assignment of guarding MJ across this game).


A look at unusual stats:


Shot Chart across the game for Chicago Bulls:

Field shot chart Flu Game - Chicago Bulls



Shot Chart across the game for Utah Jazz:

Field shot chart Flu Game- Utah Jazz

A final look at the advanced unseen parts of the game:

Flu game adv statsYou can find a full breakdown of the game in the below PDF file COURTESY OF INSTAT BASKETBALL:

Full Game Report of The Flu Game


If you like our insights, scouting and breakdowns feel free to contact us at info@advprobball.com for more about any point of interest

As a special thank you note we would like to acknowledge that @InStat Basketball has taken it upon themselves to breakdown this historic game in terms of video and analysis and we appreicate that they shared their findings with us. 


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