Celtics Relying on a Two-Man Show

1981-82 Boston Celtics

Remember the Bernie-Ernie Show down in Knoxville a few years back? And you're doubtless aware of the Dantley-Griffith nightly review in today's NBA. Attracting less fanfare, but becoming more of a reality with each passing game, is the Larry-Chief scoring fiesta currently taking center stage on the Boston Celtics.

This is not the way the Boston Celtics are supposed to operate. Scoring balance has been the hallmark of the team for a quarter-century. Lately, however, the scoring burden has fallen to two men, Larry Bird and Robert Parish. The two have averaged a combined 54 points a game while shooting an aggregate 59 percent (125-212) from the floor over that span. They had 60 points in the Wednesday night 112-110 loss to Phoenix, and at the point of Boston's peak third-period effort (a 79-71 lead) had accounted for more than 50 percent of the team's points.

Is this inherently bad? Bill Fitch thinks not. "I don't care where the points are coming from, as long as we get enough," Fitch says. "Anyway, 110 should have been enough to win. It's the 112 that bothers me." Danny Ainge, meanwhile, observed that "the difference between Robert and Larry scoring all those points and Dantley and Griffith, is that our guys are 7 feet and 6-9 and theirs are 6-5 and 6-4."

As the Bird and Parish totals soar, the Cedric Maxwell figures diminish, and this cannot be viewed as a healthy situation. Max, a 17-points-a-game scorer two years ago, a 15-points-a-game scorer last season and the 1981 playoff MVP, has only averaged 11 ppg in the nine games since returning to action following his knee injury.

A look at the shot distribution reveals no significant decrease in opportunities when compared to other time-blocks this season, but things aren't coming out the same. Of course, Max isn't helping himself with his erratic free-throw shooting. Once a very solid foul shooter, Max has now become a trick-or-treater, sinking but 33 of his last 48 attempts, including two of six Wednesday night in Phoenix.

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