2.11.2016

Billups a Keeper (on this night)



November 15, 1997
 
Despite recent rumors to the contrary, Chauncey Billups looked like a keeper last night.

Celtics coach Rick Pitino has spent much of his off-court time denying reports that he is trying to unload his No. 1 draft pick, who had been dismissed as being unable to play the point in Pitino's frenetic system.

Camby Clouded by Controversy



November 15, 1997
He says he feels no guilt. None. Marcus Camby shredded the NCAA code of conduct, then took the money, and left the University of Massachusetts holding the bag. But he says his conscience is clear.

2.10.2016

Dominique, Sherm, and Pervis: Oh, Those were the Days

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August 28, 1994

There are certain givens in the world of sports. Dominique Wilkins, for instance, will give you 20 points (and often 20 shots) a night. Dee Brown will steal the ball more times than any other Celtic. Sherm Douglas will lead the team in assists.

None of those players will be the X factor that determines Boston's level of success this season. That falls in the lap of Pervis Ellison.

Best Series Ever? Puhlease.



Game 7. 1981 Eastern Conference Finals. 5:23 left in the game. A majority of the starters on both teams have been on the bench for the last three minutes. . . resting . . . knowing they'd need it cuz the last five minutes was gonna be like the rest of the series--hellacious. The two teams have been going hammer and tong all season long. They split the regular season series, 3-3. Now they are knotted at 3-3 in the playoffs.

The winner gets an invitation to the NBA Finals, and will be the prohibitive favorite. The Celtics trailed most of this game by a margin of 5-11 points, and currently trail by 7, 89-82. The starters return for both teams. Every possession the rest of the way is like a round of a heavyweight bout, Ali-Norton. The Celtics' offense scores 9 of the games' final 10 points, the defense preventing the opponent from scoring a single field goal in more than five minutes of play. The green goes on to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 4 games to 3, after once trailing in the series 3-1. Boston then plunders Houston in 6 games, hoisting banner 14 in the process.

There you have it. My submission for the best series ever. We won't even talk about the 1982 ECFs, where the Celtics again returned from the dead to tie a series at 3-3 after trailing 3-1, only to lose the 7th game at home. Nor will we talk about the 1974 NBA Finals, where the road team won five of the seven games, including the last four in a row. And of course we won't talk about any series not involving Boston.

Bob Ryan had this to say:

As has been written approximately 173,464 times in the past week, only three other teams in NBA history had successfully extricated themselves from a 1-3 hole in a seven-game series. But in none of the other cases did the comebacking team win the three games it needed by margins of two, two and one points. In none of the other cases did the comebacking team continually rebound from serious deficits the way this Celtic team did in the past three games. It is neither a hyperbolic, nor an ethnocentric statement to contend that this was, without question, the gutsiest series comeback in the 35-year history of the world's foremost basketball league.

Now let's talk Bulls-Celtics. First round of the 2009 NBA playoffs. The winner goes on to lose in the very next round. The regular season Celtics-Bulls contests were a bunch of forgettable ho-hummers. The Celtics were playing the series without two of their top eight rotational players. And people thought this was the best series ever?

Let's get real.

2.09.2016

ML Forgets to Pack Suitcase for Road Trip



January 16, 1982

M. L. Carr didn't realize how long he's been away from the NBA due to injury until he got to the airport Thursday night, and discovered he'd left his suitcase at home. A quick clothing dash in East Boston and later in Milwaukee kept him from freezing . . . Yes, Ainge is a rookie in the NBA. Although he has been to Detroit many times with the Toronto Blue Jays, he went to the wrong bus at Detroit's Metro Airport. And Fitch revealed that the reason he was smiling so much when his team was trailing in the final seconds on Friday night was the fact that Ainge was calling timeouts after every Milwaukee basket, just as he did in college.

The Dennis Johnson Precedent

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August 24, 1983


Like a lot of folks, Dennis Johnson has trouble making sense of the pre-draft deal which sent driftwood Rick Robey to the Suns in exchange for one of the NBA's finest guards. DJ is a 6-4, 28-year-old guard who was the MVP of the 1979 playoffs. He's a four-time All-Star and has been named to the league's All-Defensive Team in each of the last five seasons, a feat matched only by Walt Frazier. In his seven NBA seasons, he's averaged 15 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 77 percent for the line. He missed only 15 of 574 regular-season games since joining Seattle in 1976.

Robey, meanwhile, averaged 14 minutes and 4.2 points per game in 1982-83 and spent the second half of the year in Bill Fitch's doghouse. For reasons still buried in the vast heart of Fitch, Robey ceased to exist after January.

How were the Celtics able to get DJ for Robey?

Most NBA observers still think Phoenix will have the last laugh. Fair or unfair, Johnson has been branded as immature, moody, and a disruptive force. Why else, it is asked, would a player of his talents be traded twice during his prime?

For example, DJ's former coach Lenny Wilkens had plenty of bad things to say about DJ when the Sonics dealt him to Phoenix for Paul Westphal in 1980. Johnson was labeled a pouter. Seattle officials still remember DJ sulking on the sidelines, while his teammates went through a shooting practice a few hours before the Sonics were eliminated from the 1980 playoffs by the Lakers. DJ was traded a month later.

"I talked with Lenny," says Celtics' coach K. C. Jones. "He said he had some difficulties with Dennis out there, but that after the trade Dennis sat down and talked things over in an apologetic tone. As far as I'm concerned DJ comes to play and is a worker. He volunteered to come to this camp."

The Suns claim they've had no trouble selling the trade to their fans. Says Phoenix GM Jerry Colangelo, "we knew we were giving up a very good player in Dennis Johnson, but there were things about his game that didn't necessarily fit in with Phoenix. He has a tendency to pound the ball. He doesn't get the ball up the floor as well as we'd like."

"The trade is past history and there's nothing I can do about it. I have to thank Phoenix for sending me to a championship contender. I know what Boston can do, and with me as an addition, I think I can help take things further.

"I'm ready to go. They're going to get the best of me."

2.08.2016

Da Pride Endures




October 18, 2015

Hank Finkel, the former basketball center, still believes in Celtic Pride. 


With the NBA season set to begin next week, I've been thinking about how the game has gone from setting plays, playing defense, and grabbing rebounds to a 48-minute race. Three-point shots, speed, and one-on-one drives now dominate each contest.

2.06.2016

Does Rick Pitino Ever Tell the Truth?



November 14, 1997
Rick Pitino says he doesn't lie. He just reserves the right to change his mind.

Rick Pitino says he doesn't lie. But he might, you know, exaggerate a little bit.

Understand?

2.05.2016

Travis Knight and Antoine Walker Propel C's to Victory



November 13, 1997
It was a night that forced you to declare your NBA philosophy. Are you a victory-at-any-price type? Or are you a discerning critic, one who demands that your basketball team be trimmed at the edges and polished just right?

The Celtics' 96-86 win over the Nuggets at the FleetCenter last night would have helped you work out your position. It was a 48-minute conversation piece played before 15,760 people. What kind of conversation was it? Well, once again, it depends on your interpretation. 

2.04.2016

Celtics Have Fourth Best Road Record

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January 16, 1982
1981-82 Boston Celtics

The Celtics' 11-7 road record is only the fourth best in the NBA, trailing Philadelphia (15-6), Los Angeles (15-6) and Milwaukee (11-5). But Boston's home record (which includes the three in Hartford) is 17-2, and that is the league's best, a shade better than San Antonio's 15-3 . . . Utah and Dallas are the worst road teams, each with a 2-15 record entering last night's action . . . The six-game figures for the inimitable Larry Bird: 32.2 points a game, 14.0 rebounds a contest, 9 assists a game and 63 percent (85-136) shooting . . . Parish has quietly been playing excellent basketball. His last five point-rebound figures have been 24-11, 24-11, 21-9, 25-18 and 19-12. Incidentally, he had a season-high 23 rebounds in Market Square Arena during the Dec. 1 Pacers' 90-87 triumph over the Celtics . . . Cedric Maxwell sat out his fifth straight game last night, due to a sore right knee . . . The Celtics are 11-3 against teams with .500 or better records, and 18-6 against sub-.500 clubs . . . McKinney, on the 3-10 Indy record the past 13 games: "We're not playing with any sharpness, crispness or consistency. In those 13 games we've only played well twice.

2.03.2016

Employee #8 Needs to Use his Knees



November 13, 1997
Remember: It's all in the knees. That's what Antoine Walker told himself last night. And when he wasn't saying it, Rick Pitino was screaming it from the sideline. "Knees, Antoine, knees." 

That's knees, as in "bend your knees." Pitino had mentioned that he might bring in a shot doctor if Walker didn't improve his free throw shooting. He went into last night's game a 53.5 percent shooter. But he made 10 of 11 in the Celtics' 96-86 win over the Nuggets. His knee form was nearly perfect.

2.02.2016

Celtics Relying on a Two-Man Show



1981-82 Boston Celtics

Remember the Bernie-Ernie Show down in Knoxville a few years back? And you're doubtless aware of the Dantley-Griffith nightly review in today's NBA. Attracting less fanfare, but becoming more of a reality with each passing game, is the Larry-Chief scoring fiesta currently taking center stage on the Boston Celtics.

2.01.2016

Travis Knight for Three!



November 12, 1997
 
This is where the Celtics' long-range shooting offense is now: Their 7-foot center, who really is a small forward, is their best 3-point shooter among the starters.

Not any of those scrappy, gunning guards. Not any of the sleek, Kentucky-credentialed forwards.

Huddle Pic Post-Alien Addition





1.31.2016

Undermanned Celtics Rally Past Spurs, Take Second Leg of Texas Triangle



Celtics Improve to 42-15
1981-82 Boston Celtics


If the 1981-82 Celtics ever deserved to take a bow, it was last night. Performing with heart and savvy, they came from eight points down in the third period to take out the San Antonio Spurs by a 110-101 score at the Hemisfair.

This second post-Larry and seventh post-Tiny game was won thanks to the skilled, deep Boston front line of Robert Parish (26), Cedric Maxwell (25) and Kevin McHale (18 points, 13 rebounds and a superb defensive job on Mike Mitchell), and it was accomplished without the usual help from Gerry Henderson, who pulled a hip muscle early in the game and who was spelled admirably for the final 8:39 by Danny Ainge.

1.30.2016

Did the Boston Celtics Really Win their Last Four Titles?




May 22, 2012
The Los Angeles Clippers are the successor team to the Boston Celtics. The Celtics? They are a successor to the Buffalo Braves. It's easy -- if you follow the fine print. 

1.29.2016

Barros Biding Time



November 12, 1997
Dana Barros is sixth on the Celtics in minutes per game, but he was 12th in the last game. As in, he didn't get off the bench.

Barros said yesterday that he hasn't been in that position since his early days in Seattle. This is one individual who is used to playing, who once played in 167 straight games. He's hoping to start a new streak tonight against the Nuggets. 

"I'm taking it day by day," Barros said. "It's early, man. I'm not down about it. I've been through a lot over my career, and this is not a big ordeal. I'm just going to have to fight for time and play hard in practice."

Barros started the first two games before yielding to Chauncey Billups. His time Saturday went to the activated Tyus Edney, who had 11 points and 10 assists in 26 minutes.

Coach Rick Pitino reiterated yesterday that he feels Edney is his best pure point guard and is in the mix for his backcourt of the future. He also mentioned Billups, Ron Mercer, and, yes, Barros as possibilities.

1.28.2016

Pete Meyers is the new Hank Finkel




November 5, 1993


H E IS THE punchline awaiting the ultimate NBA trivia question. He is a player who couldn't fill his successor's locker, much less his shoes. He is Pete Myers, Michael Jordan's replacement, ready to begin his 15 minutes of fame.

"Henry Finkel is not the reason we're losing"



March 27, 2014

"Henry Finkel is not the reason we're losing."

That has to be among my all-time favorite sports quotes.

It was spoken during the 1969-70 NBA season by then first-year Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn. 

1.27.2016

Chauncey Not Getting It Done




November 10, 1997
This is an NBA movie. It's called "Three Men and a Basketball" and it's a true story. It is a Rick Pitino Production, written, directed and produced by the Celtics coach. We can tell you the plot in one line: Three point guards are auditioning to be the point guard who gets the bulk of the minutes in Pitino's rotation.

Celtics Crush Hornets



Celtics Improve to 21-4
1990-91 Boston Celtics

Remembering the 29-5 Start


The first 30-45 minutes before a Celtics game at Charlotte is very important to Hornets fans. They travel up Tobacco Road from as far as Florida for this pregame ritual. They point their fingers, press their Kodaks, holler out their favorite player's name, beg for autographs and have one dandy time. Tourism at its finest.

1.26.2016

Todd has Impressive Day



December 23, 1995

After watching son Todd go for 41 points last night, Ted Day walked up to M.L. Carr in the Celtic dressing room and said, in essence, that the party isn't over.

"You're going to see more of that from Todd," the father said. "You've been very good for him. You're showing confidence in him, and that's what he's needed. You'll see more of this." 

Carr's smile widened.

1.25.2016

Big Dog Makes Chris Ford a Winner



November 9, 1997,
They've got a shuffling checklist. It's sort of like a compact disc player set to random. The Celticsare going to give you something. You just aren't sure what it's going to be.

They were at the Bradley Center last night to meet the explosive Bucks. Despite a 105-96 loss, they had coach Rick Pitino complimenting them on their passing and shooting. So if passing and shooting were problems in previous games, what was there to complain about last night? 

Red Nabs DJ in Trade for Robey



Maybe Dennis Johnson will show up with an attitude that'll make Sidney Wicks look like John Havlicek. Maybe Rick Robey will prove to be the greatest thing to hit Phoenix since air conditioning.

Then again, maybe the venerable Redhead has done it again. Maybe Celtic fans will be sipping green beer next June, saying, "We knew we were on the right track when Red swapped Rick Robey for Dennis Johnson and a first-round pick last June."

1.24.2016

Celtics Down Pistons

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Celtics Improve to 28-9
1981-82 Boston Celtics

The Celtics survived a first-half blitz - including a 40-point second quarter - by the Pistons and posted a 128-120 victory over Detroit last night at the Silverdome. The Celtics had not lost two games in a row all year, but found themselves struggling for momentum in the giant Silverdome. The Pistons trailed after one period, 36-35, but roared to a 75-63 lead at halftime behind the shooting of one John Long.

For 77 Seconds, Ainge Outduels Jordan



April 21, 1986

    Danny Ainge has no illusions. He knows what would happen if he were to
play one-on-one with Michael Jordan. Ainge couldn't help laughing at the idea.
    "I concede right now," Ainge said.
    He didn't give an inch, though, when facing up to the Bulls' Jordan
Sunday afternoon. For at least one stretch, when he wasn't even supposed to be
on the floor, Ainge had beaten Jordan at his own game.

1.21.2016

Point Guard Problem




November 9, 1997
The Celtics have a point guard problem. Quite simply, they have too many. What that meant last night was a first for Dana Barros: A DNP-CD in the Celtics' 105-96 loss to the Bucks. 

Rick Pitino raved about Tyus Edney (11 points, 10 assists) after the game. He also was pleased with parts of Chauncey Billups's game, although the coach was incensed when he wanted a timeout after a Milwaukee hoop and Billups instead lost the ball. So with 26 minutes for Edney and 22 for Billups, that left none for Barros.

Any reason?

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