Tiny Outplays Zeke

1981-82 Boston Celtics

After it was all over and Tiny Archibald had had his best shooting night as a Celtic, Larry Bird marveled about it all: "I knew Tiny was really up for this game. I could just tell by looking at him . . . He was just killing them."

Bird knew it even during the warmup on the floor of the Silverdome Saturday night, and when it was over the Celtics were on the topside of a 129-88 decking of the Detroit Pistons.

Archibald may have been tired of reading about the point guard of the future - sensational 20-year-old Detroit rookie Isiah Thomas - perhaps reasoning that the point guard of the present was alive and well and wearing a green No. 7. And that might explain, as much as anything could, why Tiny picked this particular game and locale for his wizardry.

Isiah Thomas might very well be the Second Coming, but Tiny wished to assert - and did so, making 12 of 14 from the floor - that the appropriate time for said coming hadn't come yet.

Tiny's performance came while Bird, who admittedly doesn't shoot well in the Silverdome, wasn't. Bird finished the rout with two more assists (10) than shots attempted as he seemingly devoted the night to feeding people, in particular Tiny.

And did Archibald respond. He scored 24 points on a combination of jump shots and drives, one of the latter on a textbook back-door feed by Bird. And his shooting couldn't have been any better as he sank eight outside shots, none of which - no hyperbole - touched iron. Each and every one of his successful jumpers were swishes.

"I was standing in a perfect line of flight for each one of those jumpers," said Bird, "and I knew each one was good when it was halfway there."

There can be no way of exaggerating how good the Celtics looked at times over the weekend. On Friday they exploded in the third period, outscoring the Indiana Pacers by a 33-8 margin in the amazingly brief span of 8:45, moving the ball as well as humanly possible.

Twenty-four hours later they obliterated a Detroit team that harbors playoff aspirations with yet another brilliant display of two-way basketball. It's a shame they must wait 77 games for the playoffs, because it's difficult to imagine a team in better synchronization at this point of the season than the Celtics.

Bill Fitch doesn't want to hear this, of course, because he is paid to point out what's wrong with the team, and then correct it. But the plain truth is that very few of his peers wouldn't swap positions in order to coach a 6-9 forward who can compile 10 assists and a 33-year old point guard with enough dedication and concentration to outplay a 20-year-old whippet. The Celtics may have some problems, but there is still a lot more right about them than there is about most anyone else in the NBA.

No comments:

Follow by Email