Celtics vs. 76ers
November 10, 1979
It’s fair to say Larry Bird never saw anyone quite like Julius Erving during his time at Indiana State.
Undaunted by the one of the most premiere players in the league, Bird and the Celtics entered Philadelphia intending to make a statement that they were the best team in the East. The 76ers, however, were not overly impressed. Billy Cunningham’s bunch built an 11-point lead in front of a sellout crowd of 18,276 of Philadelphia’s finest after three quarters of play.
The Celtics fought in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Sixers by ten points, but ultimately fell short in a 95-94 defeat. The Celtics could be proud of holding Philly under 20 in both the third and fourth quarter, but the C’s left with a missed opportunity after only delivering 14 points in the third. In a game where his team was out-rebounded and did not distribute as many assists, Dr. J was the difference-maker. Erving finished with 37 points in his first battle with Bird, while The Legend was Boston’s high scorer with 22. Philadelphia’s roster was packed with pretty recognizable faces — Bobby Jones, Doug Collins, Mo Cheeks, Darryl Dawkins, Henry Bibby, Al Skinner (though he only played in two games) — and current Sixers head coach Collins delivered 18 points and Dawkins and Jones combined for 31 boards.
The win improved Philly to 12-3, while the Celtics dropped to 10-3. If nothing else, the Celtics knew they could play with the Sixers. In a game where confidence looms large, that would play a factor in their second meeting on December 19 at the Garden. Philly would go into a brief tailspin after the game, dropping four of their next five before reeling off nine in a row. The Celtics had a few days off to prepare the Pistons and Jazz, teams they would see on Causeway Street on Wednesday and Friday night.
Ten years later, on November 10, 1989, Larry Bird would drop 50 points in a 117-106 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.