Celtics Improve to 62-18
1981-82 Boston Celtics
The intensity of Bill Fitch is incredible. The Celtics coach just won't acknowledge the fact a nothing game - a garbage game, if you will - even exists. He insists he must win them all.
Last night the Celtics, who had wrapped up everything possible a week ago, had to put on a winning effort because the game meant so much to the opposition, Milwaukee, but Fitch made it look as though the game that ended in a 100-91 Boston victory was for all the marbles.
From the opening whistle, Fitch was leaning heavily on the two officials, Hugh Evans and Jack Nies, and wasn't satisfied until he finally got tagged with a technical 59 seconds into the final period.
And then with just a couple of minutes left to play and the Celts up by a single point, the public address announcer introduced Kenneth Sims, a defensive tackle from the University of Texas, expected to be the Patriots No. 1 draft pick. As the Celtics's 64th straight sellout crowd gave Sims a standing ovation welcoming him to Boston, Fitch became livid.
"Of all the times to introduce him," Fitch explained his reaction to the Sims debut. "I would have liked to have applauded him, too, but not at a time like that. That's the type of thing they do to you on the road but not at home."
"I get greedy," the coach admitted. "I like to mess around and experiment (he went with several different combinations on the night.) But I still want to win them all."
The third straight loss for Milwaukee put the Bucks two games behind Philadelphia and almost assures the 76ers of the home court advantage if those two meet in the playoffs. Fitch agrees it was a "costly loss" for the Bucks but claimed it was hardly a laudable performance by Boston either.
"I would hate to take our game as it is now into the playoffs," said Fitch, citing rebounding, free throw shooting and fast breaks as the glaring deficiencies. "You wouldn't have to take your shoes off to count the fast breaks we managed in that first half."
It was a half sloppily played by both sides but the Bucks had an excuse. They are without their top shooters, Junior Bridgeman and Quinn Buckner, who are out for the season, and long-range threat Brian Winters, temporarily sidelined. It changed the entire Milwaukee attack. The Bucks had to resort to a muscle game packing it in under the basket and forcing the Celtics to shoot from outside.
Fitch started Chris Ford withTiny Archibald and had to suffer through some frigid shooting by Ford who went 0 for 7 in the first half. But with 7:39 left in the third period Chris finally hit on a 20 footer and "that was like a fresh breath of air," said Fitch.
The Ford points put Boston up 57-56 and they were never again headed. He added a three-pointer a couple of minutes later helping the Celtics build an 8 point lead going into the final period.
But the stumbling struggle wasn't over. Milwaukee's diminutive Robert Smith got three quick baskets and those combined with five points by Marques Johnson (he was top scorer for all with 26 points) tied the game at 79-all and prompted wholesale substitions by Fitch with 9:02 left.
Included was Danny Ainge who got his first playing time of the game and completely throttled Smith while canning five straight free throws as the game wound down.
Also hitting for six points in the closing moments was Kevin McHale who landed up top Celtic scorer with 20 points on the night. Larry Bird was only five for 13 but had 14 rebounds while Robert Parish, back after a three-game layoff, started slowly and hit on just 6 for 17 from the floor.