1983-84 Boston Celtics
The season is only three games old and already K. C. Jones has become a master of understatement. The new Celtics' coach wants his team to win every game played in Boston Garden, which despite a new paint job will never be confused with the Holy Land by most NBA teams. Jones was speaking of Celtics' intimidation, which at the ancient edifice is not a new notion, but one that in recent years could not be taken for granted. "We have to go out from the start and play aggressively every game, but especially so on our home court," Jones said. "It's important to let teams know they can't walk in here and think they can beat the Celtics."
Most coaches would find last season's 33-8 record at home - including 2-1 at Hartford - acceptable, considering the growing number of quality clubs, but that won't satisfy K. C. It goes against the Celtics' tradition started in the '60s when enforcers such as Jim Loscutoff, Gene Conley and Bob Brannum made oppponents coming to the Garden shudder in anticipation of a physical pounding.
And it goes against the legacy of the '70s, when the Celtics won two World Championships with players like Dave Cowens, Don Nelson and Paul Silas, who used a combination of brains and brawn to accomplish the same end. "We've got to go after teams and start doing some of the things they have been doing to us," he said. "I'm not talking muscles.
"It starts with putting pressure on the ball and playing with smarts. We did it with Cleveland and Milwaukee and you saw the results. The idea is to be aggressive, and if you get burned, have a support system there to take up the slack." Robert Parish added that the support system is not something that can be turned on in the fourth quarter.
"You've got to fight fire with fire," said the big center. "There are some things you can't do, but that doesn't mean you can't get after teams and play with great intensity. We need to develop the killer instinct early." Then there is the confidence factor, because once a team beats the Celtics at the Garden or in Hartford, it seems to give that team even more confidence on its home court against Boston.
"That's what has happened with Detroit," said Jones. "They match up well and they come here knowing they can beat us because they've done it before. That's what you have to change. Indiana is coming to town and they seem to play well against us." Perfection is the goal, added Jones, but right now he will settle for a balanced team effort. "That's because the level of talent is so good in this league that there will be nights when you're simply not going to stop a player."
Sidney Moncrief of the Bucks had 28 points Wednesday night, but "we were able to shut down players like Marques Johnson and Alton Lister," Jones pointed out. "Moncrief didn't hurt us all that much because he didn't get going in bunches. That's what the support system is all about." Steve Stipanovich, the No. 2 overall draft selection, will make his Garden debut tonight (7:30) with the Pacers. The former Missouri center has become the third member of the youthful but talented Indiana front line with Clark Kellogg and Herb Williams, both from Ohio State.