Green Moves to 4-1
1981-82 Boston Celtics
Power. Poise. Efficiency. Cohesion. Experience. All the above contributed to the most awesome dismantling of a Celtics ' opponent in two years.
Not since that October evening in 1979 when the Celtics jumped into a 45-12 second-quarter lead over New Jersey has Boston been involved in a game like the one on view before 15,035 amazed Silverdome onlookers last night, as the Celtics trampled the Pistons by a 129-88 score that accurately reflected the astounding differnce between the two teams.
Whereas Boston had taken out the Pacers the night before with one memorable 9-minute burst of perfect two-way basketball, this triumph was the result of a continual application of mind and body and not just one powerful thrust. From an early 8-8 tie, the Celtics expanded the lead to 24-13, and Detroit would not come closer than five the rest of the way. Boston just kept coming at the home squad with waves of fresh, eager, skillful green-clad athletes, and there was nothing the Pistons could do to prevent Boston from scoring.
It was 35-27 after one period, 63-42 at the half and 102-65 at the end of three. On most occasions, the losing team chops away at the lead and at least wins the garbage time battle, but the Celtics wouldn't even allow Detroit this small measure of satisfaction, peaking with the 42-point spread on Charles Bradley's goaltended inside power move with 20 seonds to play.
Individual standouts included Cedric Maxwell, whose 14-point, 10-rebound first half were instrumental in the 21-point intermission spread; Larry Bird, who, despite not ending his Silverdome shooting jinx, tore apart the Pistons' defense with a season-high 10 assists; and Tiny Archibald, who went berserk with an 8-for-8 third period en route to a 24-point, 12-for-14 evening.
On a night when the Celtics were so completely dominant, it might seem silly to claim there was a key juncture. But the point at which a game turned into a glorified Celtics' scrimmage came in the final five minutes of the half, when the combination of Rick Robey, Kevin McHale, Maxwell, Gerry Henderson and Terry Duerod simply put the hammer down and blew out Detroit with a 16-4 run that started off with 13 unanswered points. Being down 9 points at home is one thing, but being down by 21 at the half is another. There was no chance the young, inexperienced Pistons could overcome such a deficit, and just in case they harbored any comeback notions, the Celtics flattened them with a 39-point third period.
Detroit was simply horrible after a decent start to the season fueled by sensational rookie Isiah Thomas, who demonstrated some of the immense physical gifts that stamp him as perhaps the best point guard prospect who has ever slipped on a sneaker.
It was 8-8 after three minutes when Archibald, clearly eager to show the youngster that the old (33) boy has some life left in his own legs, stripped Thomas at midcourt and sailed in for a layup. Bird next sent Tiny in for a back door layup (leaving The Kid alone at the foul line), Maxwell hustled for a followup. Bird fed Max for a hanging pumper and suddenly it was 16-8, Boston and the tempo had been established.
Still, Detroit was hanging around on the fringe of the game with 5 minutes remaining in the half. At this juncture, the Boston bench, plus Max, took charge. Henderson fed McHale for one of what looked like 43 Boston dunks.
On the next possession the Celtics whipped the ball in and out and around the perimeter before Duerod took a Henderson pass and dropped in a foul-line jumper. Detroit coach Scotty Robertson began substituting, but nothing could stop the Celtics now, as they would run off the 13 points to create a 22-point (60-38) spread with 1:10 left in the half.
The second half was so easy, as Boston could just do nothing wrong. But who's kidding whom? Given that Boston's four victories have come by 24, 22, 17 and 41 points, it is reasonable to assume that there will be more such mismatches before the snow flies, then melts and the April showers bring May flowers and then maybe, just maybe, a 15th championship.