Celtics Breathing Hard

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Record: 9-1

Denver and Salt Lake City, back-to-back, present special problems for every NBA tour group.The Celtics beat the Nuggets in Denver last night and take on the Jazz in Salt Lake City tonight. Atmospheric conditions and high-scoring opponents make it tough to win in either city. Elevation is the first problem. They don't call Denver the mile-high city for nothing, and the hometown Nuggets do their best to take advantage of the thin air. Salt Lake is only about 1000 feet lower than Denver and Celtic forward M. L. Carr said, "Salt Lake City is the same as Denver, it just doesn't get the publicity. It's so tough to breathe in these towns that you need a time-out just to do a post-game interview."

The scoring capabilities of the Nuggets and Jazz are also in the stratosphere. Look at it this way: in a 26-hour period, the Celtics will face the top-ranked and second-ranked NBA offensive units, and six of the top 20 scorers in the league. Going into last night's games, the Nuggets were scoring 125.7 points per game, the Jazz a mere 120.5. Denver's front line of Kiki Vandeweghe (3d in league, 28.9), Alex English (14th, 22.1) and Dan Issel (17th, 21.7) were combining for 72.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the Jazz have Adrian Dantley (1st, 31.1), John Drew (16th, 22.0) and Darrell Griffith (20th, 20.5).


Larry Bird has a sprained left ankle and suffered a bruise on his right hip last night . . . Kevin McHale is shooting 64 percent (74-116) . . . Gerald Henderson hit 8 of 11 for 21 points and had eight assists . . . The Celtics shot 76 percent (16-21) in the third quarter and held Denver under 30 in each of the last two quarters . . . Danny Ainge and Greg Kite will be honored at halftime tonight. "It'll probably be like Yaz Day," laughed Kite. "But I don't know how they'll get the car in the boat into the building."

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