1983-84 Boston Celtics
Some folks remember the Maine. Others remember the Alamo. Still others try to remember the kind of September. The Boston Celtics remember the Milwaukee May Day Massacre. The NBA's schedule maker must be a clever fellow, blessed with either a macabre sense of humor or a keen feel for the dramatic. Here it is, two days after Halloween, and the Milwaukee Bucks are in town to help the Celtics open their 38th home season tonight at 8.
These are the same Bucks who spit on the once-proud Celts in four straight games last May. Milwaukee's flashdance sweep was the first ever suffered by the Boston franchise, and it opened up the gates for a tumultous summer that saw several key members of the Celtics' cast wave goodby. One of tonight's multiple subplots is the return of Tiny Archibald in a Bucks uniform. Boston's floor leader for five seasons was unceremoniously dumped in midsummer, then signed with the Bucks. Tiny will be Milwaukee's starting playmaker tonight, but memories of The Sweep remain the Celts' primary motivation.
"I think we'll have some extra incentive," said Cedric Maxwell. "It's unusual to be pumped up for an early game, but I think our pride is still probably wounded. We weren't prepared and they beat us handily last year. I think we'll be up a lot more this time. You can't gain it all back - what we lost as far as our pride goes - but this would be a start." "I'm sure we haven't forgotten the way we ended last year," adds Robert Parish. "This should be a very intense contest. We have to establish ourselves against a good ballclub, especially since our first outing (Friday's 127-121 loss in Detroit) wasn't exactly pretty."
"Ugly" is the best description of the Milwaukee Massacre. The Celts were beaten in straight sets, 116-95, 95-91, 107-99 and 107-93. The Bucks advanced to the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia while the Celtics staggered home for an endless summer of "What happened to you guys?" "The Bucks embarrassed us," says M.L. Carr. "I'd like to beat Milwaukee six times this year, then meet them in the playoffs and beat 'em again. I don't want to take aything away from them, but it could have been any team beating us the way we were playing then. It could have been Phoenix. It could have been New York. It just happened to be Milwaukee."
Bucks' coach Don Nelson, who burned some bridges with mentor Red Auerbach during the sweep, says, "This is just one of the early tough games for us. The sweep was nice, but it was just one step for us. Our goal last spring was to win a championship and we didn't, so I don't feel very triumphant coming back to Boston." Nelson will start Archibald in the backcourt with Sidney Moncrief. Marques Johnson, Bob Lanier and Alton Lister will start up front. Archibald and Lanier played only 21 and 23 minutes respectively in Milwaukee's season opener vs. Indiana. Charlie Criss, Junior Bridgeman, Paul Pressey and Kevin Grevey are Nelson's spare guards, and Harvey Catchings, Paul Mokeski and rookie Randy Breuer fill in underneath.
Listor plays some center when Lanier is out of the game, and Nelson has been looking at Pressey as a small forward. The Bucks are the oldest and most experienced team in the league. "I worry that older players have the tendency to get injured more and may not recover as quickly, but I like my squad," says Nelson. "We have respect for them, but we know we can beat them, " says Larry Bird. "They embarrassed us and the only way to get back at 'em is to go out and beat 'em." "Let's put it this way," adds Kevin McHale. "If we have to beat a team Wednesday night, there's nobody I'd rather beat than Milwaukee. We have to vindicate ourselves."
Negotiators for the NBA and the NBA Referees Assn. met for four hours yesterday and NBA
legal counsel Russ Granik reported "no significant progress." Granik also said, "We are prepared to go all season with the substitute officials. We think they'll get better each week." The NBA said it had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the referees' union for allegedly "engaging in a pattern of attempted coercion and intimidation" of substitute refs . . . Archibald hit 4 of 4 floor shots and 2 of 2 from the line in the Bucks' opener. "I think the fans will show their appreciation for the things Tiny did while he was here," says Carr . . . Moncrief has a slightly bruised shoulder but expects to play . . . Milwaukee assistant coach Gary St. Jean scouted the Celtics last weekend.