1990-91 Boston Celtics
Remembering the 29-5 Start
Well, who wouldn't? They're already up by 15, the game is almost 14 minutes old and they're at home, where they've won 11 straight and their average victory margin is 16.8 points.
(Aside to NBA commissioner David Stern: Larry was only kidding.)
When we last saw the Atlanta Hawks, they were awful. They had lost eight straight and were well on their way to No. 9 when nature intervened on Nov. 28. Unseasonably high temperatures and the inherent problems of the aging Boston Garden produced a floor more suitable for Katarina Witt. The Hawks and Celtics played slip-sliding away one too many times and the officials, with Dick (Barney Fife) Bavetta taking control, suspended the game with 10:30 left in the second quarter. The Celtics led, 37-22.
The Hawks have turned it around since then -- they had won six straight before losing Friday night to Detroit -- and are furious over the league's decision to pick up the game at the point it was suspended. Team president Stan Kasten called the decision "preposterously unfair" but said he had little choice but to abide by it.
"We, the NBA, declared the conditions unplayable based on what we had at that time," Kasten said. "That tells me that the first quarter was unplayable, too. It's not right. The right thing to do is start it over on equal terms."
But they won't, and even that decision spawns some interesting twists. In addition to getting a reprieve of sorts -- the Hawks were headed for Blowout City that night -- Atlanta also has Dominique Wilkins, Doc Rivers etc. available, rested for a 35-minute game. The same, of course, holds true for the Celtics.
There's also the psychological side to all this. It will be up to Chris Ford to convince his troop that the game isn't already over. Likewise for Atlanta's Bob Weiss, but his team can hardly get worse. It shot 29.2 percent from the field, with Wilkins (1 for 7) the prime bricklayer.
And we hate to bring it up, but with temperatures expected in the high 60s, might the conditions be right for Slipout II? The Garden has investigated long-term solutions to the problem and implemented short-term steps, such as extra layers of insulation between the court and ice surfaces, but you never know.
All statistics from the game will count once things resume. Robert Parish had 10 points (4 of 4) and 5 rebounds. Bird was on his way to a triple-double (6 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists).
"It is going to be a little different," Kevin McHale said. "Halftime is going to come awful fast."
Celtics coach Chris Ford ran the team through a lively workout yesterday at Hellenic College and then addressed the overconfidence issue which is bound to arise given the 15-point lead. "Those things will be pointed out," he said. "But I like their frame of mind right now. But I'm also fully prepared to have my foot ready to give them a swift kick if they need it." . . . Brian Shaw sat out the session to rest his sore left calf. He will play today. Bird took an awkward spill chasing a ball out of bounds and hurt his back. He later was out shooting and said all was OK. A more serious setback might have hit John Bagley. He was scrimmaging when he collided with Dee Brown and limped off the floor. "He bruised his knee in the same place that the tendinitis is bothering him," said trainer Ed Lacerte.