1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 109, Bucks 99
March 17, 1984
You could dismiss it by saying that it was played in Boston Garden against the NBA's answer to "On Golden Pond," but for Celtics fans, there was something very encouraging about last night's 109-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics took charge down the stretch, overcame a big chill (six points) performance by Robert Parish, and discovered white lightning in the backcourt. Larry Bird scored 28 and Dennis Johnson came through with 22, but let the record show that this game was won when the unlikely backcourt duo of Scott Wedman and Danny Ainge took over in the fourth quarter.
"We got very large help from Wedman and Danny Ainge," said coach K.C. Jones. "Somebody on the squad of 12 men had to come in and pick up the action. Danny and Scott did that for us tonight." Early in the final quarter, Junior Bridgeman tied the game for the last time - 81-81. Then Wedman and Ainge put it away with a 9-2 run. Wedman got it going with a fast-break banker off a feed from Ainge. After Sidney Moncrief (only 14 points) missed a layup, Aingecanned an 18-footer from the right sideline.
Bob Lanier (18) scored for the Bucks, and Milwaukee got the ball back on a Paul Pressey steal. When Marques Johnson (26) lost it out of bounds on a drive to the basket, Bird took advantage of the quick inbounds rule, feeding Wedman for a sneakaway. Then Wedman stole a Pressey pass and Ainge buried a three- pointer from the left corner. Boston led, 90-83, Don Nelson called time and the Garden exploded.
"I think it was our defense that did it for us," said Ainge, who finished with nine points and hit four of six from the floor. "Scott and I had the open shots and they were going down for us, but the defense created the openings." "When you get in and hit a couple, you're looking for it more than you would at first," added Wedman, who scored 13 on six for nine. "I thought we got rolling pretty well. We got some off the break and then went outside. Maybe they weren't looking for us as much from the outside."
After the Ainge-Wedman torch job, Marques (26) closed the gap to four (99-95) with 2:48 left. Milwaukee couldn't get any closer. Bird (12 rebounds and five assists) pushed it back to six with a lefthander in the lane. When Marques lost the ball on a drive to the basket, Cedric Maxwell found Bird open underneath and it was 103-95 with 2:04 left. After another Buck timeout, Bridgeman tossed up an airball, and DJ canned one from the left corner to seal it for the Celts. "That was serious," said a smiling DJ. "I kept my hand up and everything."
DJ was Boston's highest-scoring guard, but Ainge and Wedman were the toast of the postgame celebration. Both have been silent lately. Ainge had played only 15 minutes and scored two points in the last four games. Wedman had yet to score more than 10 in games other than the ones Bird missed with injuries. They played more last night because of Gerald Henderson's calf injury (he kept the streak going with seven minutes in the first quarter) and Jones' thirst for experimentation.
"Danny handled the ball well and shot with authority," said Jones. "And I feel confident with Wedman at guard. He needs this type of work, both physically and mentally, to get into shape for the playoffs. And we need his outside shooting." "It doesn't surprise me that Scott Wedman is able to make a jump shot," said Nelson. "He's very good at that." The victory was Boston's fourth in five tries against Milwaukee and improved Boston's record against the Central Division to a phenomenal 24-2.