The silence at the final buzzer said it all. The Philadelphia 76ers had
shut up a capacity crowd of 15,320 at Boston Garden by coming back from
an eight-point halftime deficit and holding on down the stretch for a
96-93 victory to take away the Celtics' home-court advantage and gain a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference final series.
Three big baskets by Darryl Dawkins - who scored 23 points and
finally proved he could play in the Boston Garden - and some
extraordinary play by Henry Bibby (in addition to the expected heroics
submitted by Julius Erving, who got 29) putthis game away for the
Sixers, who ran off a 16-2 spurt in the third period to assume control
of the ball game, which had belonged to the Celtics for the first 26 minutes.
staged a comeback themselves, coming from an 80-72 deficit with 10:28
remaining to tie the game at 81-81 with 8:02 left. But they blew several
chances to get that crowd-pleasing go-ahead basket in the next 1:46,
and after Bobby Jones broke that tie with a basket, they never really
got anything going offensively again, although they did forge ties at 88
and 90, this last with 3:24 remaining.
Dave Cowens was on
the bench with five personals at the time, and Dawkins took advantage of
his absence to help himself to a dunk, a low turnaround and a corner
jumper. Bibby stuck in a corner jumper with 56 seconds to play to make
it 96-93, and the Celtics got one last chance when Chris Ford's three- pointer was no good with 13 seconds lft.
An absolutely amazing 45-foot one-hand Ozark Ike toss by Jeff
Judkins sailed cleanly through the hoop with 10 seconds left to propel
into a 52-44 halftime lead and give the fans something to talk about
for the entire half, this series and, perhaps, for the rest of their
Judkins' heave was released a hair before the 24-second clock expired, and it gave the Celtics
a 52-42 lead. The Sixers managed to chop two points off that margin
when Bibby - who kept the visitors in the game with a 10-point second
period - sank two free throws on a loose-ball foul called at the buzzer
by harried referee Ed Middleton, who pleased neither side with his
The Judkins situation came about this way: The Celtics
had the ball, and a 49-42 lead, but they were in definite trouble on
that particular possession. With five seconds to go on the shot clock,
Maurice Cheeks poked the ball away from Tiny Archibald. It rolled
toward midcourt, and Judkins was the first man to arrive on the scene.
He picked the ball up and flung it while off balance. It never touched a
thing as it went cleanly through the cords. Billy Cunningham began a
rain dance in protest that the shot had come after the buzzer, but the
referees paid him no heed.
That shot just about overshadowed
what had been a hard-fought but not completely artistic first half of
play. The teams battled with the expected intensity, and there was no
denying that each was playing playoff-type defense. But there were long
stretches in which the players seemed plainly nervous on offense.
One player who was not nervous, or inefficient, was Erving. The
Doctor had 10 first-quarter points and 14 in all before he had to retire
to the bench with 5:07 remaining because of foul trouble. He and Bibby,
who came in late in the first quarter, and who then played the entire
second quarter, were the entire offensive show for the Sixers, who had
trouble establishing both their running game and their inside game.
forced the offensive action for the first 24 minutes, moving into a
quick 4-0 lead on baskets by Ford and Cowens, and relinquishing the lead
just for 1:28, from 18-16 to 22-20, Boston. The Celtics
got the lead back on a Cedric Maxwell layup, and they took a 25-22 lead
into the second period on a three-point inside follow-up by Larry Bird.
were able to extend their advantage to as many as 10. They also led
twice by 8, and three times by 7. But they blew their chance to create
some daylight between themselves and the Philadelphians when they could
not take full advantage of a Sixer scoring drought that lasted 4:17, or
from 29-29 to 36-29, Boston. It was Bibby, first with a left-baseline
stop-and-pop jumper and then with an ill-advised, in-traffic forced
invention, who broke the Sixer skein, and who made sure that the Celtics would not pull away.
The key man for the Celtics
was Maxwell, whose 14 points included 4 on the offensive boards, and
whose inside maneuvering was largely responsible for getting Caldwell
Jones in foul trouble. Of great importance was a basket he made with
2:47 left, when he took a nice Bird pass and up-faked CJ before floating
underneath the basket for a gorgeous layup. That created Jones' third
personal, a figure that was matched by Dawkins and The Doctor himself.
The tension was high, and the coaches were jumping all over the
officials from the beginning - not, it should be pointed out, without