1988 NBA Playoffs: Celtics Inching Closer to Best Record in East

April 14, 1988

The Celtics aren't exactly hung up on it, which is understandable since they aren't planning on losing soon. But let the record show that the Magic Number to clinch the best record in the Eastern Conference is 2. Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 2 will make Boston the champion and guarantee the home court until the Finals -- unless, of course, the opponent there is someone other than the Lakers.

The Celtics have won eight straight games, their best streak of the season. The most games they won in succession last year was seven . . . The Celtics have won 16 of their last 18 . . . The starting frontcourt of Larry Bird (26), Kevin McHale (21) and Robert Parish (21) notched its second consecutive all-20 performance . . . Dennis Johnson was 3 for 3, which included a jump shot. He's made 16 jumpers in his last four games . . . Bird's previous triple-double was a 39-17-10 job Feb. 10 in San Antonio. He lacked only the 10th rebound by the end of the third quarter, and he notched that with a defensive grab in the first 19 seconds of the final period. His 10th assist was a real crowd-pleaser, as he threw Danny Ainge a right-to-left wraparound job for a three-pointer with 13 seconds left in the third period.

The Bucks' coaching staff was certainly taken with the Celtics. "I don't know what I can say that hasn't been said," declared Del Harris. "They're unselfish. They're just a very good basketball team." Added assistant Mack Calvin, "They're so smart defensively."

Last Friday night, Harris was ejected from a game in Richfield when he wandered onto the court with the ball in play to protest a series of non-calls. He went onto the floor in the third quarter again last night, but at least it was a dead-ball situation, and all he got was a recommendation to take a seat from referee Ronnie Nunn . . . The estimable Jack Sikma was hardly recognizable with a 1-for-11, 4-point, 4-rebound night. He lost a wee bit of ground to Bird (an 8-for-8 shooter from the line) in their battle for foul shooting supremacy. Sikma checks in at .922, while Bird is up to .916.

Who says the key to victory is eliminating turnovers? The Bucks had an exemplary total of seven, but lost by 19 . . . Calvin credited the Celtics with 32 fast break points in 18 tries, for a completion percentage of 88.9 . . . The Bucks had no fast break points in the first half . . . A good omen: By the time it was 10-4, Boston, all five starters had scored . . . Report on the Ultimate Bragging Rights: Bird is 1 for 10 on three-pointers in his last two games. His 0 for 4 dropped him to .4199, while Ainge's 2 for 4 boosted him to .4134 . . . Johnny Most dropped a lighted cigarette in his lap during the postgame show and burned a hole in his pants.

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