Quicklinks to Friday Media Columns

Ryan Hadfield will be by in a bit with some musings, but here are a couple links from this morning:

WEEI simulcast on NESN giving odd vibe – Chad Finn has a sports media “thoughts” column which looks at a number of topics including the increasingly bizarre happenings on the WEEI morning show, with John Dennis attempting every bully power play he’s learned over the years (“Minifield, Mini-me, whatever your name is…“)  in a desperate attempt to keep power.

He also notes the departure of longtime D&C producer Steve Ciaccio, who said on his Facebook page that he is leaving the station as of April 2nd.

We’ve been saying this for weeks, but this HAS to come to a head soon.

NCAA tournament bracket forever a superstar – Bill Doyle talks to Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg about March Madness.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter IV

Welcome to the Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

“Welcome Mike Salk. If you didn’t before, you definitely now have a wide open door for listeners from 2-6.” – Andre Dursin

Tony Massarotti and Michael Felger were theorizing about why the Bruins go into a funk every March/April on Monday. Kind of ironic to think about: Their show started to tailspin around this time last year when they poorly miscalculated the impact of their Celtics-bashing during the 2011-12 playoff run. A slow start is forgivable, but “Salk & Holley” have a chance, albeit a slim one, to capture some quick momentum out of the gate with the recent happenings on “Felger & Mazz.” (More on this later.)

“My days of reading this site are over. Hadfield is unreadable. Readership is officially single digits. Over and out.” –Luther

I’m unreadable? Is it the font?? Why are you talking on a walkie-talkie???

Oh wait, you just don’t like my approach. That’s fair. Sorry, bruh. Not changing – GOTS TO KEEP IT REAL. I am concerned, however, about your comprehension skills – *re-checks the numbers* – I don’t think your report about BSMW’s readership is accurate. SIDE NOTE: Bruce, we may have a hacker.

“I don’t get the vitriol for Felger. I don’t get the vitriol for anyone just because they have a different opinion on sports. Take it with a grain of salt, it’s supposed to be fun…to me Felger and Mazz are funny, entertaining radio.” – NEPatsFan

Look, I’m on record here, many times over, actually, as being a staunch “Felger & Mazz” supporter. Yes, sports talk radio is supposed to be a fun, worthwhile debate. And Felger and Mazz certainly meet these guidelines, as ratings would suggest, with flying colors. And hey, while I could do without the contrarian takes, whatever, I get it.

But man, I have enormous issues with how the two have conducted themselves during Welkahpalooza. The duo is traversing dangerous grounds by calling out other reporters, particularly while not documenting any reporting of their own to bolster their claims. I think it’s rude. I think it’s unprofessional. I think it’s a punk move.

Now, with that coming from me of all people, readers could – and I’m sure will – mention something about pots and kettles and stones and glasshouses. But you’d be wrong. Oh, you’d be very wrong. I rarely call out reporters, if ever. I have no use for it. Reporters obtain information and disseminate.  That’s great. But what I do here mainly focuses on columnists and talking heads. And, from my point of view, the imaginary scoreboard of breaking accurate stories shows Tom E. Curran and Mike Reiss have a strong track record doing their job, and doing it well.

That Jeffri Chadiha takdown was an ass-whupping.  Feelings are king in football columns. Gravity on its last leg? Seen better days? Potential column.” Matt Chatham (via Twitter).

For better clarification: Read my evisceration of Chadiha if you haven’t already. Reiss and Curran don’t belong in the same filth as that crap. Unfortunately, appreciating the Patriots won’t draw the ire of listeners, and doesn’t translate to ratings.  I wrote this the other day: It’s comical how many media members are ready to push the “DYNASTY IS OVER” button on the Patriots. Like every year. I get the Bill Belichick hate, I suppose, but come on.

“I love what Felger and Mazz are doing. They are trolling the Boston media and the rest of us who don’t get hot and bothered by negative talk about the local teams are loving it and the ratings prove it. All media in this country is corporate swill and they deserve the abuse.” – Dan

There is playing Devil’s Advocate (e.g. picking the Ravens over the Pats even though you vehemently claim the NFL is a QB’s league all season long), then there is throwing out baseless accusations to support an agenda, Dan. I’m fine with the former. If you want to espouse the idea that the Patriots have significant valuation issues and equate Robert Kraft to the late Al Davis, go right ahead. But please, I don’t think neither Felger or Mazz  are abusing “corporate media” as part of a greater altruistic effort; they’re doing it because they want ratings.

(Side note: If Felger really thinks Reiss’ coverage is “slanted,” what does he call the opinion-based dialect he spews roughly 22 hours a day on radio and television? I makes me seriously wonder if he has less self-awareness than Donald Trump.)

“Another great column, Ryan….HOWEVER, I disagree with this line >>>> “People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel” ……..sorry man, no disrespect to your buddy but NO, “knowledgeable sports fan” takes what Felger says as “gospel”…if they do, then they aren’t “knowledgeable”…..in fact, they must be idiots.” –DryHeave

I love “DryHeave” as a username. RELATED: I hope everyone had a great St. Paddy’s day.

Re: Knowledgeable sports fans DO take what is said on the airwaves seriously. The platform has that power. Felger’s right — they have more influence in the Boston market than ESPN, but with great power comes great respon-…

Wait, where was I? OK, back. Sorry blacked out there for a second. I just think that influence is why it sucks Felger and Mazz recklessly challenged reports from esteemed writers. It hurts said-writers’ reputation. Good on Reiss for firing back, but he shouldn’t have to. His history doesn’t give us any reason to question his reporting.

“I am not a fan of Minihane’s but someone has to free him. D&C are in a total tailspin. I know it is a slow time of the year but this media vs. media MMA thing is painful radio. I even tried Kuhner this morning on ‘RKO, but his voice kills me. WEEI has to get Minihane out of there, they are killing his credibility, they run right over the guy. Ryan – keep up the good work, it is hard to establish a voice in any market let alone Boston.” –Free Kirk

Kirk, is that you??

Man, that media MMA tourney was cringe worthy, but I think it was useful in the sense that WEEI should now recognize they will lose a war of wit against The Sports Hub, specifically “Toucher & Rich.” The men of Guest Street must engage the audience in a different style – channeling compelling discourse about sports (not politics, please).

Methinks the dog days of summer are going to be especially long for Minihane, like listening to a long-winded question from Denito himself, but all signs point to John Dennis’ exile being all but imminent.  And hey, Dennis’ vacation was a nice preview of what could be. I enjoyed Minihane-Arnold-Callahan.

“On Deadspin yesterday: http://deadspin.com/welcome-ki… …’SI is developing a new brand and website with King as the centerpiece, sources told us. The in-house nickname for the new site is Kinglandia. The actual name for the site is still under discussion…Here’s one name: A source tells us Kinglandia is going hard after The Boston Globe’s excellent NFL writer, Greg Bedard.’

As they point out, it’s basically going to be a clone of Grantland but with King running it.. really? The name alone is, uhm..”-BSMFAN

I’ve been mystified with choices Bill Simmons has made with Grantland since its inception. When it comes to the site itself, I’ve wavered more than Glenn Ordway on, well, anything. On the other hand, I’ve always said that everyday they publish at least one MUST-READ piece (and that number is growing with time). These days, I love it. But the reason it works is because Simmons, whether you like it or not, has interests outside the realm of sports that most people relate to.

Meanwhile, don’t get me wrong, I do pick through MMQB every week, but Peter King enjoys coffee and loathes traveling. Those aren’t interests, they are minutia. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. And if Sports On Earth and Grantland didn’t already enlist Mike Tanier and Bill Barnwell, who are both fantastic, then Greg Bedard would’ve been writing for either. His move to Sports Illustrated makes sense. He’s a clever writer, adept at film study, and has solid sources around the league. I just have reservations about “Kinglandia.”

“How many of the supposed knowledgeable Boston Talking heads (Shaughnessy, Ordway, Dennis, etc..) think Danny traded away the Championship in 2011. What they fail to remember is Dwayne Wade’s jujitsu like takedown of Rondo in Game 3 of that series. Once that happened, all bets were off. I liked Perk but he wasn’t a 9 million dollar player. Apparently the Thunder are learning the same thing as there are constant rumors that they will amnesty him.” Jimmy V.

Night’s like Monday’s 105-103 loss to the Heat are why I was firmly entrenched in the anti-BLOW IT UP camp. The Celtics aren’t necessarily old, and guys like Jeff Green experiencing more games will help, not hurt, their career down the road. And from a viewer’s perspective, it’s nice to watch competitive basketball.

Funny though, who’s excited to hear talking heads wax about sacrificing “chemistry” and “intangibles” with the Kendrick Perkins trade? ME, I AM!?! That’s all we’ve heard since the trade, right? They’ll shift gears and redirect, because they always do. Case in point, Mazz actually opened Tuesday’s show saying “it’s not about the numbers with Green, it’s how it looks – on some level his 43-point performance is frustrating.”

Ugh.

By the way, speaking of injuries, we always hear talk about how the Celtics lost a potential championship to Kevin Garnett’s injury in 2008. Is it time to start thinking they lost a title to Avery Bradley and Green’s injuries last year? I think they win that Heat series if the two are healthy.

Something interesting to think about. On that note, as always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 76 vs. the Pistons

Celtics (57-18) vs. Detroit (16-60)
March 20, 1980
Pontiac Silverdome

The Celtics picked up a fourth straight victory with a beatdown, 124-106, of the Pistons in Detroit.  Combined with two straight losses by the 76ers (54-22), the Celtics were four games ahead of Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division standings with only six games remaining on the schedule.  The magic number for the Celtics to win the division and secure a first-round bye now stood at three.

Pete Maravich

Larry Bird struggled all night, not displaying the offensive prowess he had shown a year earlier in March of 1979.  He shot 4-14 from the field, and though he grabbed seven rebounds and seven assists, Bird also picked up a game-high eight turnovers.  Bill Fitch talked to the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan after the game about a rare lackluster performance:

“Of all the games this season this is the one I’ll remember because Bird proved he was human,” said Fitch.  “It wasn’t his shooting, it was his passes, his decisions on the floor, everything.  Until tonight, I had never seen him play a bad game.  He quit looking at the hoop in the end.”

But Fitch absolutely sees Bird as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player.  The MVP contest is being hyped as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Bird.

Ryan was able to speak with Bird about the turnovers after the game:

Bird has shrugged off his shooting problems in the Dome.  “I never could get it going here,” he sighed.  “But I’ll come back next year with a good attitude.”  Pressed to comment about his turnovers, which bested his assists by an 8-7 margin, Bird said, “Some passes could have been caught but our concentration wasn’t as good as usual on the break.  And Max (Cedric Maxwell) couldn’t run with his bad ankle, which meant that a few he usually catches went off his fingertips.  I have confidence in those passes and my teammates, and I’ll keep throwing the same passes.”

Dave Cowens and Cedric Maxwell helped pick up the slack, combining for 31 points and 24 rebounds, but the big story for the second straight game was the play of Pistol Pete Maravich.

 

The game was televised as the USA Network’s Thursday Night NBA game, and included a halftime interview with a clairvoyant Bob Ryan, who predicted the Los Angeles Lakers to capture the NBA title.

 

Inserted into the starting lineup again in place of Chris Ford (still on the IR), Maravich led the Celtics with 20 points.

Again Pete Maravich had his shooting shoes on, and he scored 10 points to lead all first-quarter scorers, Bob Ryan wrote.  Included among his four baskets was one in- your-face jumper to the fourth degree.

Ryan also commented on an anomaly on the box score, a three-pointer from Dave Cowens:

The supreme moment in this game came when Dave Cowens took a pass from Rick Robey with 3:09 left and swished a three-pointer from the left corner.  He came downcourt grinning and slapped hands with Pete Maravich.  When he went to the bench for a time out, he was similarly greeted by his teammates.  Such is life with a 58-18 team that had just wrapped up its fourth straight triumph and 25th road conquest of the season.

“It’s great to have a three-pointer under my belt,” said Cowens, semi- seriously.  “But you notice it took a center to get me the ball.”

The Celtics also celebrated Don Chaney’s 34th birthday by placing the Duck back on the active roster.  Chaney openly discussed his disappointment with his role on the team with The Boston Globe’s Walter Haynes:

“Right now I don’t have good feelings about my contribution to the team because I’m not playing.  I feel more like an outsider and not in the swing of things.  Maybe the average person would say I should be content to just sit on the bench,” said Chaney…

“People might call it bitching,’ but I do want to play more,” he continued.  As a player, you feel the game in your whole mind and body, and because you love it, you can’t walk away from it.  For 95 percent of my life, it’s been basketball, and all of it has been learning to play from a competitive standpoint.”

Don Chaney

Chaney did, however, understand why he was not part of the mix of players receiving playing time:

“Hey, I’ve lost a step and some of my stamina,” he admitted.  “But on a good ballclub, guys want to play so badly that when they are on the floor, they try to outplay the starters.  This makes a team stronger.  A player loses it all when he resolves that he can’t beat another player out of a job.

“When I was young, I would think about what it will be like when I have to stop playing.  I don’t think the media can really understand the inner thoughts of a player on something like this.  You can only understand it if you’ve been there yourself.  It’s why even John (Havlicek) will go out and pick up a basketball now.  Just to feel it.”

Chaney scored six points in a dozen minutes against the Pistons.  Regardless of his role, he looked forward to returning to the post-season.

“This team has a very good chance of making it to the finals,” said Chaney, who won a title with the Celtics in 1974.  “It’s a well-balanced team; we have a good attitude, and everyone gets along with each other.  Maybe right now we’re playing a little routinely because of the anticipation of the playoffs.  But the playoffs are like a whole new season, a rebirth.

The Celtics continued the road trip by heading to Cleveland to battle the Cavaliers on Saturday.

 

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 75 vs. the Pacers

Celtics (56-18) vs. Indiana (34-41)
March 18, 1980
Hartford Civic Center

In the midst of legal battles with the Boston Garden, the Celtics returned “home” after a three-game road to the friendly confines of the Hartford Civic Center.  After a career that made stops across Beaver County, Pennsylvania all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it really didn’t matter where he played: the only true home for Pete Maravich was the hardwood floor of a basketball court.  Buoyed by a vintage 31-point performance from Pistol Pete, the Celtics avenged a loss from eight days prior and defeated the Indiana Pacers, 114-102. [Read more...]

Greg Bedard Officially Leaving Globe for Sports Illustrated

As mentioned a bit back, Greg A. Bedard will be leaving his position as NFL writer for the Boston Globe to join Sports Illustrated. The move became official this morning.

His role at SI will be in at least some way tied to the new Peter King webpage, mentioned by Deadspin earlier this week, and dubbed “Kinglandia.” The site is said to be modeled on Grantland, but will be football-themed.

Bedard will continue with the Globe through next month’s NFL draft, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the paper has already begun looking at candidates to replace him. While he is leaving the Globe, Bedard is not moving, and will be based in Boston, so we’ll assume he’ll still have a big focus on the Patriots.

More on this as it develops…

Update: Greg has posted about it:

 

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 74 vs. the Nets

Celtics (55-18) vs. New Jersey (32-43)
March 17, 1980
Rutgers Athletic Center

For the second straight game, Larry Bird scored another 29 points to lead the Celtics to victory.  Instead of the Knicks, however, Bird and the Celtics moved narrowed their sights onto New Jersey in a 117-92 shellacking of the Nets.

The win put the Celtics in the driver’s seat for the division, as Philadelphia squandered another opportunity to make a final push at the Atlantic by splitting games in Cleveland (a loss) and at home with the Pistons (The Celtics got to watch the Cleveland- Philadelphia game on television Sunday night after Fitch purchased a portable antenna that allowed the hotel TV to pick up the Philadelphia channel, wrote Bob Ryan on March 18, 1979.  There is no reasonable limit to his industriousness.).

The Boston Globe’s Ryan put the game in perspective: [Read more...]

Combine Snubs Who Showed ’Em, Part I

Sometimes finding specific information on the NFL’s website feels like trying to track down some guy named Murph on St. Patrick’s Day: you pretty much know what you’re looking for, but you have no idea how to narrow the search.

One thing NFL.com does get right? Posting Gil Brandt’s oft-entertaining pro day blog. Every football player has a story; for those not invited to the NFL combine, each pro day serves as an introduction.

The NFL’s site also does a pretty good job of explaining such drills as the 20-yard, or short, shuttle (five yards left, 10 yards right, five yards left) and the 3-cone or L drill.

Below, some workout notables who excelled at their early March pro days after missing the NFL combine in February. [Read more...]

Sports Media Musings: Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti Take On … The Entire Media

The Answer That You Want

Is In The Question That You State

 

No one knows anything.

That’s the takeaway I got from Welkahpalooza. Moreover, I doubt we ever will. Of course, that didn’t stop the loudest voices Out There from speculating what transpired as talks unfolded. And that’s fine, speculation is a pillar embedded into entertaining sports commentary.

Slander, however, is not.

Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, who, believe it or not, used to practice the field of journalism, have embraced their perceived positions as “truth seekers,” among a town filled with media members that, according to them, are compromised — using the Wes Welker contract negotiations as a polemic to launch a diatribe against how the Patriots conduct their affairs.

Agenda much?

(Side Note: When this is extraordinary run is over, we’ll wax poetic about the Tom Brady-era. But there’s no getting around it at this point. You would think the Patriots are the Detroit Lions, Bill Belichick is Rod Marinelli, and Nick Caserio is Matt Millen in the aftermath of Welker’s departure to Denver. Has there ever been a franchise that has sparked more media to have their trembling hands hovering over the “THE DYNASTY IS OVER” button?)

There is a watchdog mentality brewing here (which is weird typing from a website that, essentially, is a watchdog itself). No one asked for this, but we’re getting spoon fed the rhetoric anyway. Felger had no problem calling into question Tom E. Curran‘s report that Danny Amendola was signed the first day of free agency; and Tony Massarotti, as he’s wont to do, effusively agreed. Meanwhile, the two have incessantly claimed Mike Reiss is in bed with the Krafts. Do Felger or Mazz have sources telling them information contrary to what’s been reported, or are they just blindly shooting from the hip? Methinks the latter is a strong possibility.

Anyway, eventually, this prompted Reiss to call into “Felger & Mazz” Friday afternoon in a wildly entertaining segment, in which he reminded Felger about his journalistic roots, quipping, “That’s called reporting, Mike.”

Immediately after Reiss hopped off the line, Mazz retorted that he didn’t agree with a lot of what Reiss was reporting. Felger then said, “AT THEIR PRICE! I HATE THAT …. when you want a player, you get him!” At this point, we all were just hate-listening, but thinking about that asinine statement leads me to believe Michael Felger does not understand valuation, economics, or free agency in general. Though, I suppose “if you want the player, you do whatever it takes” works when you’re concurrently espousing the idea that the “cap is crap.”

This week, we’ll hear how the Patriots read the market right and tactfully signed Aqib Talib to a one-year deal on short money. Everyone will agree on this. What’s curious is that they used the same model to evaluate Welker, and are somehow considered frugal. This doesn’t align with any sort of consistency in analysis. And that’s because analysis has relented its position to (baseless) salacious accusations of other reporters’ coverage, I guess. Felger and Mazz continually upbraid the BBWAA; openly loathe the Celtics; and now this.

***

I have a friend who loves sports; probably more than I do in some ways. He can tell you where Brandon Tate went to school, rip off statistics off the top of his head from a few box scores from big games, all of that. A few weeks ago, I talked to him about a the Patriots’ run that is nearing the end. He told me he thought we were playing with house money and that he believed the Jets and Marc Sanchez were going to take the reigns back in 2010. We both chuckled, but I cut my laugh short when he cited Felger’s influence as a cause for this impression. People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel. That’s why I didn’t have a problem last week when Felger claimed he had more influence than ESPN in the Boston market during his media review on “Sports Tonight” with Glenn Ordway. 

It’s the gratuitous pot shots, heightened blurriness between entertainment and reporting, and, ultimately, how they recklessly use their influence that worries me most.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 73 vs. the Knicks

Celtics (54-18) vs. New York (36-37)
March 15, 1980
Madison Square Garden

Larry Bird scored 29 points at the World’s Most Famous Arena, leading the Celtics to a victory, 123-120, over defeating Red Holzman’s Knicks.  The win gave the Celtics a 4-1 record against New York for the season and, coupled with a loss by the 76ers (53-19), also gave the C’s a two-and-a-half game lead in the division.

The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan, duly impressed with the game, reported his analysis in the following day’s paper:

Hey, listen up.  Here’s a great idea for a basketball game.  It will have drama, suspense, a torrid pace, fierce rebounding, spectacular individual brilliance, team dedication and a controversial ending involving a call made about once a decade.  We’ll call it a Knicks-Celtics game and we’ll bang out Madison Square Garden.

Boston Celtics

We’ll have Larry Bird running around in the Superman cape again, giving the Celtics a 117-116 lead with 1:46 left when he refuses to quit after having two inside tries blocked and calmly banks in a third-effort, lefty, overhead invention, and then putting them ahead by a 119-116 score 37 seconds later with a baseline jumper on which he attracts more attention than a naked Bo Derek strolling down Wall street on a Friday afternoon.  But for a really juicy twist, we’ll have Gerald Henderson sink the final basket with 33 seconds left to put the Celtics ahead at 121-118.

In addition to the 29 points, Bird also finished with a dozen rebounds and five assists.  Dave Cowens, returning to his role as starting center, also submitted a gem with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists.  The move back to the bench didn’t seem to adversely affect Rick Robey, who scored 23 points in 30 minutes.  Nate Archibald also returned to form with eight assists, 11 points, and just one turnover.

The controversial call which Ryan referred to occurred with the Knicks trailing, 121-120.  Before the Knicks could inbound the basketball, New York’s Larry Demic committed a foul with his screen on Dave Cowens in the backcourt.  Cowens then knocked down both free throws and NY’s Michael Ray Richardson missed a desperation three as time expired.

As terrific as Bird played, Ryan wondered in his Sunday Notes column whether the Celtics were becoming too dependent on the rookie out of Indiana State:

The Celtics have become subtly dependent on Larry Bird to bail them out of tight situations, and when he isn’t in the game, the offense is noticeably sluggish.  The situation is not unlike that of six or eight years ago when the Celtics of the time were often helpless when John Havlicek was out of the game, however briefly.

In other Celtics news, Ryan noted two other interesting developments for the Celtics.  The first was the ongoing battle between the Boston Garden and the Boston Celtics, who were making it abundantly clear that they were looking elsewhere — East Boston, Revere, and beyond — and were very giving the impression they genuinely wanted to relocate.

Still think the Celtics aren’t serious about building their own arena?  Then be advised that owner Harry Mangurian has hired former Red Sox general manager Dick O’Connell to quarterback the project.  O’Connell’s title will be “Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Board,” and he will act as liaison among the Celtics, Ogden Leisure Corp. – owners of Suffolk Downs – the various city and state government agencies and the financial community.

“Dick knows the city and the people,” explains Red Auerbach, “and he has the time to devote exclusively to this project.  As we’ve been such good friends over the years, it will make for a good relationship.  But he’ll be working more with Harry than with me.  I’ve always had a lot of respect for him.  He’s got a lot on the ball.”

Also, with the immense popularity of Larry Bird, the team planned to begin selling playoff ticket packages.  Ryan reported:

Twelve-game strips of playoff tickets will go on sale to the general public at the Boston Garden on March 20.  But potential buyers hoping to purchase single-game seats for any playoff game should be aware that they’re likely to wind up with obstructed views.  Due to the dramatic rise in season-ticket holders (over 6000), each of whom is entitled to buy an additional strip for each seat held, the demand for the 15,320 available seats will be unprecedented.  It’s not like, say, 1966, when you could hang around and buy a single ticket for the seventh LA game.

The Celtics finished up the three-game road trip on Monday in New Jersey.

 

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 72 vs. the Hawks

Celtics (54-17) vs. Hawks (44-28)
March 14, 1980
Omni Coliseum

A difficult stretch continued for the Boston Celtics.  With the season nearly 90 percent complete, the Celtics struggled to hold onto the lead in the Atlantic Division, dropping three of the past four games, including this affair in Atlanta, 88-87.

Larry Bird

Indiana did a favor for the Celtics, knocking off Philadelphia, so the Green Team remained one game in front of the 76ers.  The C’s lost this non-televised game (heard locally on WBZ) despite 23 points from Larry Bird, a 14/16 night from Cedric Maxwell, and a 13/11 performance from Rick Robey.  As well as the frontline played, the Celtic guards struggled to find any consistency, and that included the return of Nate Archibald.  The Celtics committed 20 turnovers to just 12 assists, a ratio they rarely encountered throughout the season.  Dave Cowens, rounding into post-season form, finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds, but Gerald Henderson — coming off his most impressive game as a professional with 14 points and 10 assists — struggled to produce, shooting 1-6 with one assist.  The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan looked for some positives in a disheartening loss:

On the surface, the evening could be viewed in a totally negative light, since the Celtics seemingly wasted a strong defensive game.  But with the 76ers dropping a 104-94 decision to the Pacers, no real harm was done.  And there were two significant developments coming out of this defensively oriented game.

The first was a strong performance by Dave Cowens, who put his offense (13 points on 6-for-11 shooting), his rebounding (8 power retrieves) and his defense together for the first time since his return to the lineup on Feb. 26.  The second positive note was the spectacular late-game heroics of Bird, whose jumper with 1:02 remaining pulled the struggling Celtics close at 84-83; whose tremendous pass resulted in a Cowens layup with 26 seconds left that gave Boston an 85-84 lead, the first Celtic advantage since 57-56; and whose clever cut-and-fake drew the two free throws with nine seconds left.  Then there was the matter of sinking both in a non-bonus situation.

In addition to soundly beating the Celtics in the assists battle (24-12) as well as in limiting turnovers (five less for Atlanta), Hubie Brown’s Hawks received 11 offensive rebounds and 12 defensive rebounds in a career high night for Wayne “Tree” Rollins.  Though the Celtics guards suffered through an off-night, Rollins highlighted Boston’s biggest issue: defending the paint.  Premiere post players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone had their way with the Celtics, and though the interior defense had improved from October to March, it still served as a fatal flaw looming for the Celtics.

 

US PRESSWIRE Sports

The victory put the Hawks in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye as Atlanta had basically secured the Central Division title.  Ryan noted the significance of the Hawks winning the division:

Speaking of the playoffs, here is the latest update on tiebreaking procedures should Boston and Philadelphia wind up tied for the Atlantic Division lead and are also 3-3 in their season’s series.  The first criterion will be conference record, and going into last night’s action, the teams were tied [at 38-12].  Next would be Atlantic Division record, and there Philly had the edge with 14-3 as opposed to Boston’s 13-5.  Step four is record against conference playoff opponents, and then the edge would swing back to Boston, thanks to Philly’s 1-4 record with Atlanta.

The C’s returned to action for a back-to-back with a Saturday battle against the Knickerbockers at Madison Square Garden.

 

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