1983-84 Boston Celtics
Win nine in a row and everybody starts talking about pride, tradition and happy ballplayers, but the Celtics are winning because they are shooting and rebounding exceptionally well. The Green took a nine-game win streak into Utah's Salt Palace last night. Two important statistics explained the streak: the Celtics were outrebounded only once in their first 10 ballgames, and Boston led the league with a .534 shooting percentage after Tuesday night's 140-124 victory over the Nuggets in Denver.
The Celtics shot 59 percent against Doug Moe's track team, including 67 percent (16 for 24) in the first quarter and 76 percent (16-21) in the third. Kevin McHale, who had 24 points and converted 10 of 13 floor shots, said, "We can't expect to keep this shooting pace, but we've always shot around 50 percent since I've been here. Basically, I think the reason we've been shooting so well is because of our shot selection. Also, our new offense allows us to really establish our inside game, while the guards have been getting better percentage shots."
McHale (98 points in the last four games) appears to have benefited most from the new offensive wrinkles. He shot a white-hot 64 percent in the first 10 games, including 76 percent (38-50) in his last four games. "Kevin's hit a very high average, and so has Robert (Parish, 59 percent)," noted Celtics coach K. C. Jones. "We've been getting a lot of transition baskets off our fast break, which naturally helps, but it's got to level off. Shooting is one of those unknown aspects of the game that you really have no control over."
The Celtics trailed the Nuggets only once. Denver held a one-point lead late in the first quarter, but Boston led at all the stops. Larry Bird had a triple-double (28 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists), Gerald Henderson scored a season-high 21 points, and Parish had 13 rebounds and 18 points. The Celtics opened up a 120-102 lead before Kiki Vandeweghe (38 points) took over, scoring 10 straight in a 12-0 Denver run. Denver got within five once after that, but Bird, McHale and Parish wouldn't let the lead slip away. The victory gave the Celtics their best start since 1959-60, when they were 11-1 after 12 games.
Going into last night's action, the Celtics had accounted for 19 percent (5 of 26) of all NBA road victories . . . Robert Parish had 38 rebounds in the last three games . . . Larry Bird, who suffered a sprained left ankle and a hip bruise in Denver, was 0 for 9 on three-point tries for the season . . . Most of the Celtics were laughing at a column by a Denver Post sportswriter. The column insisted that Denver's T. R. Dunn had effectively slammed the door on Bird - "Dunn neutralized the Birdman of Boston." Dunn held Bird to 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Wonder what Larry would have done without Dunn on him? To his credit, Dunn is only 6 feet 4 and played 46 minutes . . . Ex-BYU greats Danny Ainge and Greg Kite were honored at halftime last night . . . Celtics assistant coach Chris Ford was in Philadelphia last night, scouting the Sixers and Knicks. The Celtics, who have played 7 of 11 on the road thus far, host the Knicks tomorrow night and travel to Philly for Holy War No. 1 Saturday night . . . The rumor mill has Seattle's David Thompson going to the Atlanta Hawks . . . In case you were wondering, it was 24 years ago today when Syracuse's Connie Dierking fouled out in the first quarter of a game against Cincinnati.