Celtics 115, Bucks 108
Game 5 1984 Eastern Conference Finals
Celtics Win Series 4-1
In a 48-minute tribute to "Body Heat" and "The Deer Hunter," Boston's Boys of Summer bagged the stately Bucks last night, winning the fifth and final game of the Eastern Conference final, 115-108.
It's time for California Dreamin'. For the 16th time since 1957, the Boston Celtics are the beasts of the East. They are primed for what they believe to be their destiny - a championship round with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was clear from the outset that the Celtics had no intention of going back to Milwaukee for a sixth game. They have been green giants in their playoff Garden (9-0), and last night they were typically torrid in the North Station blast furnace. Meanwhile, Paul Mokeski finally turned into a pumpkin, and the venerable Bucks grudgingly followed the advice of Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm - they stepped aside.
"We played as good as we can play," conceded Bucks coach Don Nelson. "When you get beaten by a team that is that superior - like I think Boston was - you can't complain. Occasionally, you beat a team that's better than you are. I thought that happened last year, but not this time. Give Boston credit."
"Once we got our confidence going, they knew what they were in for," said Gerald Henderson, who had eight of his 19 points in the decisive third quarter. "We just aren't the same as last season."
Boston led by 62-52 at the half, and you got the feeling that the crusty Bucks would have trouble keeping pace in the sweltering heat.
How hot was it? Don't ask Johnny Carson, ask Milwaukee's Junior Bridgeman, who was hyperventilating and needed a cold shower at halftime.
"I didn't feel well, but I don't want to use that as an excuse," the classy Bridgeman said after an uncharacteristically brutal (1-of-12) shooting performance.
Bridgeman's shooting wasn't the difference, and neither was Boston's 53-36 rebounding edge. This game was won when the Celtics ripped off 13 in a row to take a 20-point lead midway through the third quarter.
It was 70-63 early in the third when K.C. Jones brought out the blowtorch.
Guards Dennis Johnson (a gutty 17 points with nine rebounds) and Henderson got things started after intermission. When DJ fired a pass to Cedric Maxwell, who whipped it to Robert Parish for a thunderous slam to make it 76-63, the Garden exploded.
There was much more. After a traveling violation on basketball's Ernie Banks (Bob Lanier), Larry Bird canned a three-pointer from the Charlestown Bridge. Then Bird (21 with 13 rebounds) rebounded a Bridgeman shot and followed up a DJ miss for two. That set off seismographs from Portland to Provincetown and forced a Milwaukee timeout with 5:22 left in the third. It was 83-63, and the Celtics appeared to have finally slaughtered the deer that made Milwaukee famous.
Not quite. Milwaukee's Mike Dunleavy (21) went to work from the outer limits, and the Bucks clawed back to 92-79 after three.
Lanier and Alton Lister (17 with eight rebounds) applied some heat early in the fourth. The Celtics helped out with careless ballhandling (22 turnovers), and the Bucks closed to within eight six times.
"When the lead got up to 20, we started to relax," admitted K.C. "We acted like it was over and played some very ugly basketball. Fatigue was a problem, but we were careless because of the big lead."
With 2:52 left, Parish picked up his sixth personal and Lister made one of two free throws to cut it to seven (107-100).
Henderson fed Maxwell (19 points) for a layup with 2:09 left. After two free throws by Dunleavy, Henderson buried a jumper, and it was 111-102 with 1:09 left. That's when the "Beat LA" chants started.
The Bucks cut it to five with 39 seconds left, but only the gamblers were still paying attention.
The Bucks hurt themselves when they came out running in the first half. Boston led for the entire pinball first quarter, until Dunleavy drilled a three-pointer in the closing seconds to give Milwaukee a 35-34 lead after one. A 12-0 second-quarter run pushed the Celtics to a 62-52 halftime lead.
Boston shot 61 percent (14 of 23) in the first 12 minutes, while Milwaukee hit for 59 percent (13-22). The Celtics outrebounded the Bucks, 13-5.
Lister led a 6-2 surge at the start of the second period, giving Milwaukee a four-minute, 13-2 surge and a 40-36 lead.
The Celtics awoke with 12 in a row. Maxwell had four of the 11, Bird added six and DJ scored on a nice drive. The capper came when Max followed up a coast-to-coast drive and miss by DJ. Marques Johnson (24 on a bum knee) brought the Bucks back, but Boston was better suited for the breakneck pace. A 9-2 run at the close of the half hinted at what was to come in the pivotal third period.