Celtics Fall to 62-19
1981-82 Boston Celtics
Look at it this way, gang. The Celtics are 2-2 in the Second Season, with one game to go.
The Second Season started last Sunday, when the Celtics played their first game after clinching the Atlantic Division championship, as well as the best record in the league. It has been nothing but a glorified exhibition campaign, and it hit a low point last night when the Celtics fell to the New Jersey Nets by a 113-96 score at the Brendan Byrne Arena.
New Jersey is embroiled in a three-way battle with Atlanta and Washington for playoff position. The Nets really wanted this game, and for a half they had a difficult time achieving their objective as the Celtics achieved the basketball equivalent of clearing a 7-foot-6 high jump without taking off the sweats, so to speak. Boston took a 57-54 lead into the locker room, despite Bill Fitch's determination to fool around with his lineups.
It was still 70-68, Boston, when the Nets began to put the game away. As New Jersey went off on a period-ending 22-8 spurt to take a 90-78 three- quarter lead, Fitch was removing his most effective player in this game, that being Robert Parish.
The Chief had done his normal Beast-That-Ate-The-Garden-State routine in this one, and in any normal situation he would not have been out. But this was, after all, nothing more than Game 4 of the Second Season for the Celtics, even if it happened to be Armageddon for the Nets.
Having said that, let it be reported that in defeating the champs the Nets did indeed look good. Foremost among their warriors was rookie-of-the-y ear candidate Buck Williams, who scored 10 of his game-high 27 points while shooting 5 for 5 in the period. Williams was a posting-up and dunking demon in the game, and he received some nice help from his long-time buddy Albert King, who twice fed him artful pick-and-roll passes for thundering stuffs.
There was no game in the fourth quarter. The teams split eight points in the first 4 1/2 minutes, and you found out all you'd need to know about Fitch's attitude when you looked for Larry Bird in vain. Bird played only in the second and third periods, as Fitch gave him a respite from the heavy-duty play (40, 45 and 32 minutes in his three previous games) during this Second Season.
Fitch went with a starting lineup of Cedric Maxwell, Kevin McHale, Rick Robey, Tiny Archibald and M.L. Carr, keeping Bird and Parish out until the second quarter. With Archibald dealing out assists - he would have 11 of Boston's 13 in the first half - the Celtics would lead by an early 27-19 margin before the Nets chopped it to 33-31 after one.
Parish went on a search-and-destroy mission as soon as he came in, but nobody was too surprised since in his two previous first periods of play against this team he had scored a total of 38 points. But New Jersey hung in, and after Boston grabbed a 57-51 lead with 27 seconds left in the half on a Parish-to-Archibald sneakaway, the Jersey boys scored the last three points of the half.
The Celtics were running well for 2 1/2 periods, and when they stopped doing so the lead went by-by. But at no time in this game did Fitch put out a five that would be construed as his best. That fact cannot be overlooked, nor overstated.
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