October 23, 1980
Premise No. 1: The Celtics very easily could be 4-0.
Premise No. 2: It's probably a good thing they aren't.
Having the chance to be undefeated the way they have played is one thing, but being deserving of the honor is another. Bill Fitch thinks his team is far more deserving of 2-2, which it is, than of being undefeated.
The Celtics went 1-2 last week on a five-day road trip to Atlanta, Milwaukee and Indiana, and in each of the losses, they failed to display sufficient poise. Their execution at key times has been horrible. Their bench contributions have been spotty (within the same game, certain players will be good one time on the floor and poor the next). Worst of all, the club isn't getting its customary lift from Larry Bird, who is shooting poorly (38.3 percent) and who failed to grab an offensive rebound in either of the last two games.
"People have asked me if I realize how close we are to being 4-0," says Fitch. "Sure we are. But I'm almost glad we're not. I'll have a lot easier time getting their attention at Monday's practice being 2-2 than I would if we had gotten lucky and beaten Atlanta and Indiana, especially Indiana. It bothers me that some of our bench people didn't play as well the second time around on Saturday (a 103-99 loss to Indiana), and it also bothers me that in two tough situations on the road, we made too many mental errors.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance to win against Indiana," Fitch continues. "If we call a play and it just doesn't work, then I'll take the blame. But if a play is called and somebody doesn't give it a chance to work, that's something else. The league will be too tough this year for us to win games making those type of errors."
As for Bird, Fitch is perplexed. He has tried to see if there is anything physically wrong with Larry, who says there isn't.
As for the team, M.L. Carr candidly assesses the present situation. "We've been beating ourselves," Carr contends. "There are no excuses, and don't make one up for us."
Wish granted. You guys had better wake up soon; that's all.