There is no understating the fact that the Boston Celtics are a significantly less imposing team away from the fabled parquet floor than they are on it.
The Celtics were 34-4 in Boston Garden, 2-1 in Hartford and 21-20 on the road this season. Whereas the Celtics have shot 50 percent or better from the floor 33 times in their 41 home appearances, they have done so only 22 times in 41 road tries. Opponents found it easier to score against the Celtics in their own gymnasiums as well. Boston foes have shot 50 percent or better 13 times in 38 Garden contests, as opposed to 18 times in 41 home affairs.
Kevin McHale has played 93 percent of the available minutes in the first two games. Larry Bird has played 90. According to Bird, there is nothing to worry about.
"It's the playoffs," he said. "Minutes are no big deal. The games are spaced out. You get longer timeouts. It's not like during the regular season, when you might have back-to-back games. If anything, I can play more minutes."
EWING BELONGS AT CENTER STAGE
It's still hard to believe Hubie Brown had Patrick Ewing playing forward. Patrick is really going to emerge as a monster force next season . . . Bird shot a dismal 37 percent (11 for 30) in his first two Madison Square Garden appearances this season, but scored an easy 31 last time out after an 11-for-15 start. This is the building in which he made his official professional debut in the first game of an exhibition doubleheader against the 76ers back in October 1979 . . . The Knicks were No. 3 in the NBA with an offensive rebound recovery rate of 36 percent, but in Games 1 and 2 the Celtics kept them under control, allowing a livable 23 offensive rebounds while grabbing 31 . . . The Celtics are returning home immediately following the game, not returning to New York (if necessary) until Friday night. Game time for proposed Game 4 is 8:10 p.m.
PITINO: RICH GET RICHER
When Rick Pitino was asked about the disparity in fouls in the first two games (61 against the Knicks to 35 against the Celtics), he answered with a bit of history. Or fable.
"Let's go back to the story books," said Pitino, laughing. "Let's tell the story of Robin Hood. You remember Robin Hood. He would rob from the rich and give to the poor -- not rob from the poor to give to the rich."
Pitino was told that Bird said that the Knicks' aggressive style of play had been sending Boston to the line, not a lopsided view on the part of the officials.
"Well, I disagree with Sir Lawrence," said Pitino. "We didn't even use our press."
FRAZIER'S HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Walt Frazier is suddenly being courted around town. The ever-resourceful star of the Knicks' 1970 and '73 championship teams has been asked about New York's love affair with those legendary teams.
"Every single player was a coach on the floor," said Frazier, referring to Willis Reed, Dick Barnett, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and later Earl Monroe. "But these Knicks are special, too. I think Mark Jackson is a true leader, maybe the leader they've been looking for since I left. Sometimes I think he has eyes in the back of his head. When he has the ball, I relax. I know the ball is safe."