Celtics End Season with Win
1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 118, Nets 111
April 15, 1984
It was like the last day of high school, when the seniors show up late, everybody goes around signing each other's yearbooks, and you put the future on hold for one final moment. The Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets, 118-111, at the Garden yesterday afternoon. Greg Kite (13 points, 10 rebounds) started at center, M.L. Carr (10 points) opened at the power forward position, and Gerald Henderson (18 points) played for the first time since the Celtics wrapped up the NBA's best overall record 10 days ago.
The victory sends the Celtics into the playoffs with 10 wins in their last 11 games and a 62-20 regular-season record - the same mark established by Boston's 1980-81 world championship team. Moreover, yesterday's exhibition game closes the curtain on 10 days of anticipation, experimentation, cruise control. "These last eight games haven't meant anything," noted Henderson. "And even though we won a lot of those games, I'm tired of it. We've had our break. Now it's time to go out and win a championship."
Like all of his players, K.C. Jones talked little of the Jersey conquest, preferring to bask in the satisfaction of having completed a highly successful run through the interminable regular season. "Sixty-two and 20 is not bad," said Red Auerbach's Coach of the Year nominee. "It says one heck of a lot about these guys here on the team. They've realized two of their goals. They wanted the best record at the All-Star break, and they wanted 60 wins.
"They had to deal with a new coach and a new system. They have really played together and responded to each other, and that's the most impressive thing about this club." Across the room, Cedric Maxwell, the senior Celtic in terms of continuous service, said, "I thought it was going to be difficult because of the situation we were in, but everybody worked.
"I thought maybe K.C. would be too easygoing, but we disciplined ourselves and it worked out beautifully. K.C. gave us respect, and we gave him respect. We always knew we had the talent. It was just a matter of playing as a unit." Yesterday's starting unit (Kite, Carr, Henderson, Kevin McHale and Scott Wedman) had the advantage of turning to one of the greatest benches ever assembled. Fellows like Maxwell (6 for 6, 17 points), Dennis Johnson (18), Bird and Robert Parish popped off the pine to help out when needed.
With Kite more than holding his own against Darryl Dawkins, the Celtics stayed even thoughout the first quarter. It was 32-32 after one. "It was a lot of fun out there," said Kite, who was stong on both boards and showed some impressive moves around the basket. "It was great for my confidence to know I can do some things out there." Boston's All-Star bench took charge in the second quarter with a four- minute, 14-4 run which translated a 38-36 deficit into a 50-42 lead. Bird and DJ led the break, pushing the Celtics to a 35-point quarter and a 67-55 halftime lead. Micheal Ray Richardson (24 points and one assist in 32 minutes) was Jersey's best answer.
Buck Williams (25 points, 14 rebounds and what else is new?) and Mike O'Koren brought the Nets back in the third quarter, but the Celtics still led by two (86-84) after three. A basket by Foots Walker gave the Nets a 91-90 lead with 9:40 left, but Parish took over, scoring six in an 8-0 run which put the Celtics ahead to stay. When the Nets pulled to within three (107-104) with 3:33 left, McHale converted a three-point play and Bird hit a followup to make it 112-104 with less than a minute to go.
"The Celtics have won 60 games, and there are reasons why," noted Nets coach Stan Albeck. "Today, they took advantage of things we could not do, and that's the difference." "Now the real season starts," said Bird. "We've been looking ahead for awhile, and now it's time to go out and win a championship."
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