Celtics Dominate So-Called "Great Eight"
January 30, 1983
As a warmup for You Know What, it was better than watching "Three Dialogues On Nuclear War" (Ch. 2), "Follow The Boys" (Ch. 25), or "Antiques in America" (Ch. 36).Granted, it wasn't as close as the folks at CBS would have liked, and several of the predicted dream matchups failed to materialize, but local folks found nothing lacking in the Celtics 110-95 thrashing of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers yesterday at the Garden.
Many conclusions will be drawn and every detail will be magnified and dissected. Hoopologists nationwide will nod sagely and surmise that Boston now will have an edge should the Celtics and Lakers meet in the championship final. It will be noted that Robert Parish (24 points) outrebounded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 18-6; Larry Bird outscored Magic Johnson, 21-14, and Boston's bench outscored the LA's, 33-22.
However, when all of the above is forgotten, the single lasting effect of this game may be the resurrection of Tiny Archibald as Boston's explosive, if not totally content, substitute point guard. He scored only seven points yesterday, but his play pushed the Celtics to a 24-point, third-quarter lead. Let's put it this way: With Tiny on the floor, the Celtics outscored the Lakers, 85-56. When Tiny wasn't playing, LA beat Boston, 39-25. He handed out a season-high 15 assists and took away LA's greyhound transition game. Parish, Bird, Kevin McHale (16 points, 11 rebounds), Cedric Maxwell (16 points) and Danny Ainge (12 points) all played well.
But, when it was over, everyone knew that Tiny was The Man. After watching his floundering teammates give numerous transition layups, Archibald came in with 2:34 left in the first quarter with the Celtics trailing, 23-20. Everything clicked after that. Archibald dished off six assists, Maxwell came off the bench to score 12 in the second quarter, and M. L. Carr shut down Jamaal Wilkes (20 points) as the Celtics went on a 10-2 run before the half to take a 60-50 lead at intermission.
Archibald started the second half (a rare departure from Bill Fitch's guard platoon system), and the Celtics blew out to a 91-67 lead. Bird (21) scored 15 in the third quarter."We played pretty good defense on them and didn't allow them to get into their transition game," said Archibald. "Plus, I thought they were a little fatigued by then (Pat Riley used only eight players)." The thrill was gone by the fourth quarter. The Lakers never got closer than 12 (102-90 with 4:01 left), and Archibald came back to eat up the clock in the closing minutes. Archibald bouquets were flying in both locker rooms.
Bill Fitch: "Tiny's job is so important, you know, running the show and so forth, and he withstood the pressure really well. Have you ever gone to Las Vegas and known you had loaded dice and were waiting for the right time to get to the table? That's the way I feel with Tiny."
Larry Bird: "It was one of the best games I've seen Tiny play. He was waiting for the defense to commit before throwing it to the open man. When you do that, you can destroy a team. It's good to see him back and confident."
Pat Riley: "Tiny's just a great player. He's got a heart as big as the Grand Canyon. He can play as long as he wants. He certainly had a big impact on this game."
Magic Johnson: "He makes the defense do one thing or another, and whatever you do is wrong."
The 34-year-old Archibald hasn't started since spraining his thumb in the eighth game of the season. He won't say he's happy coming off the bench, but has seemed much more comfortable with the substitute role in the last week. He had only two assists in 66 minutes against Chicago and Cleveland, but has come back with strong games against Washington, Phoenix and LA. He has the potential to be Fitch's biggest headache, or the Celtics' second-half secret weapon.
Asked about his reserve role, he said: "I don't think anyone is comfortable in the reserve role. "I'd like to be starting, but I'm adjusting . . . In the long run, maybe it will help me become a better coach. I watch the guys at the start, and I watch the flow of the game."
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