1.29.2008

1986 Cs (37-8) Win 12th Straight

Question: What do jumbo brown eggs, the Days of Christmas, honey-dipped Dunkin' Donuts and Boston Celtics winning streaks have in common?

Answer: They all come in packages of 12.

The Celts made it a clean dozen (as opposed to a Dirty Dozen), shooting a season-high 61 percent en route to a 112-93 decimation of the Milwaukee Bucks last night. Boston goes for lucky 13 tonight at home against the Washington Bullets.

"It used to be you had a chance by dropping off this team," said Milwaukee coach Don Nelson. "So far, from what I've seen, that's history. At this time, I don't know how to play this team. I consider myself a bright coach, but I'm out of ideas if they play like that. They made us look like a high school team, and we're not. Maybe the Celtics are awesome."

Destroying the Bucks in Milwaukee will certainly rank as one of the plums of this streak. Milwaukee hadn't been beaten this badly at home since Nov. 27, 1979 (118-93 vs. New Jersey). The Bucks were 18-4 at home this season and beat the Celts four times in five tries last year.

But this is a new season, and the Celts are playing at the top of their game. "They're my pick to win it all," said Nelson.

The Celts blew it open by hitting 15 of 19 shots (a Villanovaesque 79 percent) in a 37-24 third period. And all of that happened while Kevin McHale stayed in the locker room icing his sore left Achilles' tendon.

McHale hit all six of his shots in the ugly first half, pushing the Celts to a 46-43 halftime lead.

Then came the blowtorch. The Celtics simply exploded out of the blocks in the third quarter. Noting that Nelson had no center on the floor, Boston turned inside and found Robert Parish (12 of his 20 in the period). The Chief led an early 8-0 run which pushed Boston's lead to 58-46.

"The key was the way Robert Parish started the second half," said Bill Walton (12 points, 7 rebounds).

When Parish wasn't dealing out punishment underneath, the Celts went to the perimeter game. Larry Bird (24), Scott Wedman (17) and Dennis Johnson picked the Bucks to pieces with a textbook performance of passing, cutting and shooting. The deer that made Milwaukee famous were ill prepared for Boston's torching.

"We moved the ball well," said Bird. "We kept moving the ball and hitting the outside shot, and that made it easy for us."

Nelson called time three times in the first nine minutes of the third. Nellie's third plea for mercy came after a Danny Ainge bomb gave Boston a 74-55 lead with 3:11 left in the quarter.

When Parish picked up his fourth foul, Walton came in and scored nine points in 2 1/2 minutes as the Celts cruised to an 83-67 lead at the end of three.

Terry Cummings (24 points, 13 rebounds) cut the lead to 12 early in the fourth, but the Bucks were no match. Walton teamed with Parish underneath, and Bird got hot from the outside. A jumper by Ainge gave the Celts an 18-point led with seven minutes left. Bird's three-pointer with 3:51 showing made it 104-83, forced yet another timeout and sent throngs of Rhinelanders into the streets.

"I don't thnk we can play any better," said Jones. "We played well against the Lakers and had a great game, but this one measures up to that one."

Nobody bragged about the first 24 minutes.

The Bucks hit only three of their first 14 shots, but still managed a 21-19 lead at the end of one.

Milwaukee Brewer Charlie Moore went to the free throw line for charity between periods and hit five of eight -- a better percentage (.625) than the Celts compiled in the quarter (7 for 14, .500).

McHale warmed up and scored four baskets in the first four minutes of the second as the Celts built a six-point lead.

The deluge of turnovers and missed shots continued as the Celts and Bucks staggered toward intermission. McHale was the only exception.

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