Saturday, April 22, 2006

Playoff time for the Celtics

Yep, I was watching ESPN Classic. Celtics vs. Pistons, Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Finals.
Some thoughts on the game:
  • In uniform: 6 future Hall of Famers (DJ should be the 7th), 5 future general managers (including masterminds McHale and Isiah), one future WNBA coach, one future NBDL coach, one future Best Damn Sports Show Period host, one future winemaker, and a future movie star.
  • Speaking of Rodman, 1987 was his rookie season and back then he was actually a well rounded player. In this game he made a brilliant athletic fast break layup -- something he would never even try when he decided to make himself a rebounding specialist.
  • Breaking news: the game was so much better then. Even in this defensive battle, the pace of the game was quicker (there used to be this thing called a quick outlet pass).
  • The three point shot was available, but it seemed to be an afterthought for offenses. Because of this, the offensive game was so much different. I'd love to see the NBA look into removing the three point shot. Poor Raef LaFrentz wouldn't know what to do with himself.
  • Celtic worse than I remembered: Danny Ainge: often out of control, jumping and not knowing what to do with the ball. Maybe that's the same mindset he still uses for his free agent signing. "I need to sign someone quickly before I land, Brian Scalabrine, here's $15 million!"
  • Celtic better than I remembered: Dennis Johnson: Throughout the game he was doing a good job containing Isiah. Then Parish leaves the games because he badly sprained his ankle for the 27th time in the game and McHale fouls out. So DJ then goes on to guard Adrian Dantley, who was a very good post player.
The game also had two of my all time favorite Celtics moments.
  • Parish decks Laimbeer. Earlier in the series Laimbeer took several cheap shots at Larry Bird, so Chief was already grumpy and his gimpy ankle probably made him grumpier. So after one too many elbows by Laimbeer, Parish forearms Laimbeer's face and throws him to the ground. As Laimbeer was looking for his teeth, the refs did call a foul -- on poor Darren Daye who couldn't get away with breathing. The game then went on like nothing happened. A few minutes later it was halftime, and Parish and Laimbeer calmly walked almost next to each other to the locker room area.
  • Larry Bird's steal. Yes, the Pistons choked. However, it's tough to think of a more impressive play in basketball history. The steal was amazing, the pass was amazing, and the lay up by Dennis-should-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame-Johnson was amazing. More on the steal.


Patriotsy2k said...

After this game, Parish was suspended 1 game by David Stern for that tirade on Laimbeer. He served the suspension by not playing in Game 6, which he probably wouldn't have played anyways...due to his fragile ankle. The attack was legendary...and necessary.
When I think of this epic series, I also think of that huge brawl in game 3 at Detroit between Laimbeer and Bird. Funny thing about that melee was that Bird was never even suspended and played in Game 4, which was a Celtic loss.
The gme 7 battle at the Garden was also a classic. The Pistons were ready to dethrone the Celtics as Eastern Conference Champs - which the Celtics would win 4 straight though 1987 - and had the talent and heart to do it. A loose ball accident forced Dantley and Vinny Johnson out of the game in the 2md half, and the Celtics showed too much mettle down the stretch to be beaten.
A couple of notes about Bird's steal. Johnny Most had probably one of the most famous radio calls to that play, and a Boston writer later said (Bill Simmons?) this play had the "Garden rocking" for the only time ever. I, meanwhile, felt like a privledged 13-year-old by being able to watch this game live.

Patriotsy2k said...

If anyone wants to read a funny article on Larry Bird, click on the "winemaker" link on Alan's post. Also the link that Alan uses for more info about the "steal" is great. I have that as a bookmark, as it tells you anything you need to know about the history of the NBA.