Lakers Look Like the Team to Beat

1981-82 Boston Celtics
December 13, 1981

1. LOS ANGELES. One through six, this is the best collection of talent (which means skill plus experience) in the league. Their weakness is the sloppy individual defense of messrs. Johnson, Nixon and Kupchak, but the Big Fella stands behind them ready to erase, enabling them to get by. They've got virtually no quality depth other than the backboard-eating Mark Landsberger, so if any of the key guys go down, they're in trouble. But if the playoffs started tonight, my money would be on these guys.

2A. BOSTON. They'll get their team wa back; don't worry about that. The essentials haven't changed here, and the addition of Ainge can only make the team better. No team is more fun, more lovable, and I sometimes wonder why first balcony front row people aren't required to wear seat belts when the Celtics start running at home. Title or no title, you're the luckiest basketball fans in America.

2B. PHILADELPHIA. The 76ers are certainly as good as or better than at the end of last year, if only because Bobby Jones gets more important minutes among his nightly 28 or so on the floor. I thought they'd fold up after the playoff shock, so that shows what I know. Well, here's one thing I do know: Godot will make the All-Star Game a helluva lot sooner than Dawkins.II. Them that's hopin'

4. MILWAUKEE. Or Boston-On-Lake Michigan, if you prefer. Nellie has fashioned a team in Red's own image, and a worthy unit is, too. It's too bad that when Lanier jumps these days you can hardly slip an office memo under his size 20s. With Marques back - I hope the club didn't sell itself out - they're once again a team to fear and respect. And be it known that if we're picking 10 guys to play the Russians, loser sweeps the streets of Murmansk for the next 20 years, I want Sidney Moncrief on our team.

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