Put-Up or Shut-Up Time for 1983-84 C's

Game 7 1984 Eastern Conference Semifinals
Series Tied 3-3

Today, you find out what the Boston Celtics are made of. It's one of those rare moments in sports when a fair and true conclusion can be drawn from a single performance.

The Celtics have more talent than the New York Knicks. The disparity may not be as great as Hubie Brown would like us to think, but certainly Boston has more quality players than New York.

The Knicks have managed to split 18 regular-season and playoff games with Boston since Hubie came to New York in the fall of '82, but Celtics fans have every reason to assume that the Green Team will win this afternoon. In three playoff games at Boston Garden, the Celts have beaten the Knicks by an average of 18 points. Today, Boston will be at full strength and playing at home in a series that has seen home teams win every game.

One of two things will happen:

1. The Celtics will live up to expectations, beat New York for the fourth time and advance to the Eastern Conference finals against Milwaukee - a team they've beaten five times in six tries. Folks will be chanting "Bring on the Lakers" before Sidney Moncrief and Marques Johnson pass through the Sumner Tunnel.

2. The Knicks will win, K.C. Jones will be criticized for his backcourt employment during the playoffs, and heart transplants will be ordered for every Celtic.

It's put up or shut up. There is no middle ground.

Here's Hubie explaining the Knicks' success against Boston: "Boston just happens to be a good team we match up well with." . . . Did you ask yourself why Jones started Scott Wedman at guard Friday night? Wedman was 10 of 26 from the floor in the series prior to Friday and did not play at all Wednesday. Here's K.C.'s explanation: "Wedman can shoot out there, and at the end of the year he played some guard and helped us out. It was a move I made because I thought it would be good for us." Wedman missed four of five shots in 21 minutes . . . It's been a strange year for the Phoenix Suns. They dropped from 53-29 to 41-41 and didn't hit the .500 plateau until the final day of the regular season. Proving that peaking at the finish is all that counts in the NBA, the Suns won their last six scheduled games, then beat Portland in five playoff games and Utah in six. It'll be ironic if, after years of good regular seasons and playoff folds, the Suns rise in the West after a poor showing over 82 games. Imagine where they'd be if general manager Jerry Colangelo hadn't traded Dennis Johnson to Boston for Rick Robey? Phoenix has settled on a front line of James Edwards, Maurice Lucas and Larry Nance, with Alvan Adams coming off the bench and Robey playing the 12th-man role.

Has there ever been an uglier playoff series than the one between Milwaukee and New Jersey? The Nets shot an aggregate 40 percent over six games. Watching the Bucks is like waiting in traffic while an 18-wheel truck tries to back into an alley. Two of Milwaukee's starters (Alton Lister and Mike Dunleavy) were shut out in Milwaukee's Game 6 clincher . . . Rolando Blackman's playoff performances against Seattle and LA should help his low recognition factor. Blackman is one of the NBA's top guards but gets lost in the flood of Mark Aguirre ink . . . When Cotton Fitzsimmons took the job in San Antonio, rumors started about Kevin Loughery taking over in KC. Imagine Loughery reunited with Reggie Theus. Forget it. Loughery appears set in Chicago, for the summer anyway.

The Sixers are still disappointed with their draft positions. At midseason, Philly's top two selections (San Diego's and Denver's) would have been good for No. 1 or 2 plus No. 5 or 6. Instead, the Sixers will draft fifth and 10th. Philly lost a coin flip for the ninth spot on Thursday . . . A hearing on the Akeem Olajuwon tampering investigation will be held Thursday . . . Hard times for San Diego's Michael Brooks. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is expected to need at least 16 months to recover. He may not recover. The same injury ended the careers of Doug Collins and Billy Cunningham.

Red Auerbach on Larry Bird: "If I wanted to punish him, I wouldn't fine him. I could fine him any amount and he wouldn't say anything. If I really wanted to punish him, I'd tell him he can't play the next couple of games. That would be the worst thing you could do to Larry." . . . Knicks backup center-forward Len Elmore is headed for Harvard Law School. After Wednesday's brawl, in which the Knicks claimed that M.L. Carr and Dennis Johnson delivered cheap shots, Elmore said, "It's difficult to stand by while someone takes shots at one of our players on the ground. That's not playing by the Marquis of Queensbury rules."

Congrats to Al Skinner, who's been named assistant hoop coach at URI. Skinner starred for UMass after Julius Erving, then played with the Nets, 76ers, and Bulls . . . You won't see those soft-drink sleeves on the players' chairs today. They are banned for network broadcasts . . . You can expect Celtics ticket-price increases next season. Somebody's got to foot the bill for Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, et al. "I have no idea how the procedure will go," says assistant GM Jan Volk. "This is new ownership, and we haven't talked about it yet." . . . When Danny Ainge was in the midst of one of his many DNP (did not play) streaks, Kevin McHale noted, "Do you notice how my man Danny never wears plaid clothes? That's because Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." . . . Happy 43d birthday, Dean Meminger.

1 comment:

Lex said...

Inching closer to the Finals, at which point, we'll slow down the pace and enjoy . . .

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