1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 119, Bucks 105
Ancient philosopher Juvenal claimed, "Revenge is always the delight of a mean spirit, of a weak and petty mind." Maybe. But Juvenal probably couldn't go to his left or make the outlet pass to start a fast break. He certainly never experienced the indignity of being swept 4-0 in the playoffs.
The Celtics finally beat the Milwaukee Bucks last night, and it had to feel good. Commemorating the sixth-month anniversary of the Milwaukee May Day Massacre, Boston extracted a pound of flesh from the aged Bucks, beating Don Nelson's gang, 119-105, in the old-yet-new Boston Garden. Boston's 38th home opener was played in front of the 121st consecutive Garden capacity throng, a group which included striking officials who paraded to the tune of "Joe Hill" early in the first quarter.
You can thank Larry Bird and Quinn Buckner for this one. Bird scored 22 points in the first three quarters as the Celtics built an 11-point lead. Buckner came off the bench and was a catalyst in each half, stealing, assisting and scoring like the man who used to play the point for the Bucks. He got a lot of backcourt help from new Celtic Dennis Johnson in the second half.
The Celtics hit 80 percent of their first-quarter shots, led, 32-27, after one and never trailed. The tightest moment came when a seven-point halftime lead vaporized early in the third quarter. As old fried Tiny Archibald went coast to coast for two, the Celtic lead was trimmed to 69-67 and K. C. Jones called time. Led by Bird and Buckner, the C's outscored Milwaukee, 20-11, in the final eight minutes of the third and led, 89-78.
Junior Bridgeman caught fire for the Bucks in the fourth, but the Celts had too much muscle underneath and the Bucks never got closer than eight. Archibald received a not so Tiny standing ovation when the starting lineups were announced. Then the real fun started. It was a little tense at the beginning. Two announcements calling for eviction of any fan caught blowing a whistle had been made, and when centers Robert Parish and Bob Lanier set themselves for the opening tap, a coterie of policemen lined the the perimeter of the court. The Celtics and the Garden were intent on averting the type of ugly scenes that have taken place elsewhere.
Adding to the tension was the presence of Darrell Garretson, the only veteran referee who has elected to ignore the strike. Bird shifted the emphasis momentarily by canning an 18-footer out top to open the home season. The Celts were pressing and running, and another bomb by Bird (11 points in the quarter) quickly made it 8-2.
While all this was going on, the striking refs (who bought 15 obstructed- vie w tickets) starting strolling the aisles behind the loge boxes. It was then that you could hear a few of the 2000 whistles that had been handed out by the striking officials before the game. When Dennis Johnson stole the ball and fed Bird for another jumper to make it 13-5, Milwakee coach Don Nelson called time with 9:08 left in the quarter. Then the picket gang tried to move down to the area behind the Celtics' bench. They were stopped, backed off and disappeared into the night.
When play resumed, Parish hit a turnaround to make it 15-5. The Celtics were on their way to hitting 12 of 15 shots in the quarter, and another run by late in the period made it 24-13 before the Bucks started fighting back. Eight straight points by Milwaukee cut Boston's lead to 24-21. As usual, Sidney Moncrief was everywhere (10 in the period) and Boston's margin was down to five (32-27) after one. Archibald scored two points in the first half.
The Bucks pulled to within one point briefly, but Buckner and Danny Ainge had success pressing Milwaukee at halfcourt, and when Buckner converted a steal into a layup, it was 46-37 with 7:12 left in the half. Boston took advantage of height mismatches (Marques Johnson on Kevin McHale), and two more baskets by Bird pushed the Celts to their biggest lead of the half (54-41), but the Bucks cut it to 63-56 by intermission.