C's win Fifth Straight
Larry Bird scored 43 scintillating points, and that's what sent the crowd home buzzing. But the Celtics as a whole had played another excellent offensive game, and that's what sent the players themselves home glowing.
The 126-96 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night was the Celtics' fifth straight and 13th in their last 15 games. They may have occasional defensive dips, but no team in the history of the league has ever come out hard defensively for 48 minutes. Meanwhile, few teams have ever settled into an offensive groove to match the one the Celtics are in right now.
They shot 58 percent from the floor, which means that in each of those 13 victories they have broken 50 percent as a team. They had 36 assists in 52 field goals. They outrebounded the Cavaliers by a 57-36 margin. They just flat-out kicked some serious butt.
"We may have some flaws," said Dennis Johnson, who submitted 11 assists while playing outstanding defense on World B. Free, "but when we have to, we can pick up our defensive intensity. Offensively, we're probably in the best groove we've been in during my three years here, even the year we won it."
Bird shattered his previous high of four three-pointers in a game, a figure he had attained twice in the previous six days. What's interesting is that he is on record as being against the three-pointer. "But it's part of the game," he said, "and it's something you've got to take advantage of." . . . Bird has averaged 37 points a game while shooting 65 percent (84 for 129) from the floor in his last six games. His season's shooting percentage is up to .491. Considering that after 14 games, he was shooting .426, that's not too bad.
Bill Walton had eight rebounds in the second quarter and nine in the half before sitting out the second half.