The 61-Game Exhibition Schedule

March 11, 1987
Bob Ryan

So how'd you like the 61 game exhibition season?

Now that Bill Walton is back, Phase II, the real season, can begin. He didn't contribute much to the cause last night -- if anything, he was a major impediment -- but at least people connected with the Celtics no longer must answer the question, "When is Bill Walton coming back?"

He's back.

The Celtics won. But is winning the key anymore?


The issue now is the nurturing of Bill Walton. Those first 61 games were nice, but what he does in these these last 20 will help determine whether or not the Celtics will have the kind of summer they like and not the kind where they have to keep saying, "Guess we'll have to do better next year."


I remembered this article being from 1988. Guess I was off by a year. It makes a difference, though. In 1987 the Celtics still had a shot at a championship. 1988? Not so much. Walton made a comeback attempt in 1988, too. Again, Celtics fans got excited, but it never really came to fruition. The 1987 comeback was also disappointing. While the Mountain Man did return to the court that year, he was largely ineffective.

This year, the Celtics have played 58 games, 37 up and 21 down. The entire team hasn't been healthy for one game the entire season, and it sounds like Danny Ainge isn't done tinkering with the roster yet. So is there reason for Celtics fans to get excited in 2010 like Bob Ryan did in 1987?


I said it two days ago and Kevin McHale said it last night. What this team needs is to make a statement in the final 20 some games. They need to post a gaudy win-loss record over this stretch, and start administering some beatings. Most importantly, they need to show they can still play shut-down, inside-the-opponent's-jersey defense for long stretches of games. They need to rebound. They need to do all this not just to send a message, but for their own psychological well-being.

Can they make another step in the right direction tonight?

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