The Chicago Bulls weren’t that bad in 1988, they were actually good winning fifty games, but were still developing as a team and still not good enough to beat a team like the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers. They had Horace Grant developing at power forward with Charles Oakley still having that position, who was very solid and very good for them. But the Bulls by the late 1980s were moving to become a quicker, more athletic, trapping type of team on defense. That moved the ball a lot on offense to the open scorer.
The Bulls traded Oakley in the offseason. And made Grant their starting power forward for the next season. Scottie Pippen wasn’t even starting for the Bulls during the 1988 season. So the Bulls were still about Michael Jordan on offense, with Orlando Woolridge as their second option. Who at times was very good, but not a great player. And the Pistons were one of the teams that they had to get by in the Central Division to accomplish what they wanted, which was to win the NBA Finals. And this was the start of the Bulls-Pistons rivalry, which is still alive today, but not as strong.
The Pistons in 1988 were an NBA Finals contender, but better than they were in 1987. Because they had already gotten to the Eastern Conference Finals and lost it and knew they were very close to what they wanted which was an NBA Championship. And if Isiah Thomas doesn’t sprain his ankle of game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals, who knows maybe they win the championship that year. The Celtics were getting older and no longer had a good bench and the Pistons already knew they were good enough to beat the Celtics.