Green v. Purple and the Multivariate Subplots

Green v. Purple and the Multivariate Subplots

February 23, 1983

Under smoggy skies and the threat of a rare three-game losing streak, the Celtics make their annual visit to the fabulous Forum tonight. A joust with the Lakers is always a glamor game, but tonight's match is especially significant because the Celtics must win to avert the indignity of three straight losses - something that has happened only once in the four seasons since Bill Fitch and Larry Bird came to Boston.
 It's never easy to win here, and it will be especially tough because the Celtics are playing poorly (Golden State smacked them, 17-2, down the stretch Saturday), and the Lakers are out to avenge the 110-95 beating they took in the Garden Jan. 30.

Lakers coach Pat Riley says, "I think we're going to be more prepared for them than we were last time. There are a couple of things we have to focus on. Certain players they have increase the tempo defensively. Last time, M.L. Carr and Gerald Henderson and Cedric Maxwell did it for them. We have to take the challenge defensively, accept the pressure and fight through it."

Riley doesn't think Boston's recent problems necessarily will carry over. "When you get to this level, that doesn't make any difference," he says. "I don't think the fact that they've lost the last two will have anything to do with it." Fitch says, "They can all add to three . . . But I don't think there's any mental attitude. You just have to come into it wth the attitude that you're going to play your best basketball or you're not going to beat LA."

At this juncture, incentive must come from within. The Celtics are locked in second place in the Atlantic Division, seven games behind the white-hot Sixers. The NBA champion Lakers have virtually clinched the top spot in the Pacific Division, but won't have a realistic shot at compiling the best overall record.

LA's Great Eight may be reduced to the Not So Deep Six tonight. Bob McAdoo has an injured toe on his right foot and has missed the last three games. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came down with one of his migraine headaches and had to leave practice yesterday. If he can't play, LA probably will go with Kurt Rambis at center, Jamaal Wilkes and Michael Cooper up front, Norm Nixon and Magic Johnson in the backcourt and James Worthy coming off the pine.

Riley is a firm believer in the eight-man rotation: "Somewhere along the line you make a decision. With eight players, they know their roles and how much time they're going to get and they know they're not going to get the hook if they don't play well. If you could convince 12 guys you were going to platoon it would be different, but I don't think that's realistic in this league. You find your best eight, go with that rotation and hope the guys on the bench are ready to play if you need them." Tiny Archibald couldn't have said it any better.

Quinn Buckner, who has missed four staight games with a slight tear in his ankle, is "still shaky," according to Fitch . . . Archibald was a chief contributor (15 assists) when the Celtics beat the Lakers, Jan. 30. Last season, the Celtics won in Inglewood, 108-103, one week after losing to the Lakers, 119-113, at Boston Garden . . . A loss tonight would make the Celtics 1-3 on the trip and give them four losses in six games. Boston lost four of six from Dec. 16 to Dec. 28 earlier this season . . . The Lakers are second in the the NBA in team offense, averaging 116.9 points . . . Lakers owner Jerry Buss has yet to talk with Abdul-Jabbar's agent, Tom Collins. Abdul-Jabbar will be a free agent at the end of the season. Collins has already talked (with Buss' permission) with the Knicks, Nets and Sonics.

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