Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 59 vs. the SuperSonics

Celtics (44-14) vs. Seattle (44-16)
February 17, 1980
King County Domed Stadium

The Seattle SuperSonics reminded a national audience that the defending NBA champions were still the prohibitive favorite to win the championship.  Though it was close, the Sonics fought past the Celtics, 109-108, scoring the final eight points of the game to complete a season sweep of the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Dennis Johnson

Dennis Johnson had another terrific game for Seattle, finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds.  Johnson’s ascent and success in professional basketball was an anomaly.  The NBA was filled with unique stories, but perhaps none more so than the story of Dennis Johnson.  Johnson’s NBA.com Legends page detailed his story:

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 58 vs. the TrailBlazers

Celtics (43-14) vs. Portland (27-32)
February 15, 1980
Memorial Coliseum

The Celtics recovered from a loss in Phoenix with a 106-91 triumph in Portland.  Boston built an 11-point lead by the half and cruised to their eighth win in the previous nine games.  Following up from his 45-point outburst against the Suns, Larry Bird led the C’s with 28 points and 15 rebounds.

Bob Ryan detailed the victory in the February 16, 1980 edition of the Boston Globe:

Piece of cake. Can of corn.  Day at the beach.  Walk in the spring rain.  Day at the office.  Get the idea yet?  The Celtics simply overwhelmed the Portland Trail Blazers last night, giving them too much Larry Bird (28), too much M.L. Carr, too much Tiny Archibald and just too much team before walking off with a 106- 91 victory that ended their losing streak at its customary number – one.

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 57 vs. the Suns

Celtics (43-13) vs. Phoenix (37-20)
February 13, 1980
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Phoenix recovered from the Celtics’ 42 points explosion in the third quarter and a twelve point deficit to come back and defeat the Celtics, 135-134.

Larry Bird had his most impressive game in his rookie season, pouring in 45 points.  The Suns gushed over Bird’s performance to the Globe’s Bob Ryan after the victory: [Read more…]

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 56 vs. the Pistons

Celtics (42-13) vs. Detroit (14-42)
February 10, 1980
Boston Garden

The headline spoke for itself.

PISTOL, BIRD BLAST PISTONS, 128-111

The Boston Globe printed what the 21st sellout crowd (a new franchise record) witnessed at the Garden.  The pairing of Larry Bird and Pete Maravich led the Celtics to victory, humiliating the Pistons, 128-111, delivering Detroit its league worst 43rd loss.  Their loss was just as important as the victory, as the Celtics held the rights to the Pistons’ upcoming draft pick.

Bird led the Celtics with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Maravich contributed 14 points of his own.

Bird and Maravich

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 55 vs. the Pacers

Celtics (41-13) vs. Indiana (27-29)
February 8, 1980
Boston Garden

The Celtics continued to roll over the competition, squashing Indiana, 130-108, on New Bedford Night at the Garden.  While Olympic boxing hopeful Andre McCoy was being honored and boxing fans were salivating over his future, the Celtics were busy winning their sixth straight game.  This was already the fourth time during the 79-80 season the Celtics had generated a winning streak of at least six games.

Sports News Larry Bird

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 54 vs. the 76ers

Celtics (40-13) vs. Philadelphia (39-14)
February 6, 1980
Boston Garden

In the team’s most impressive win of the season, the Celtics began their post-All Star break schedule by destroying the mighty Philadelphia 76ers, 129-110, in front of a capacity crowd at the Garden.  The win was particularly impressive as the C’s allowed Julius Erving to go off for 36 points yet still defeated the Sixers in a rout.

Nate Archibald

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 53 vs. the Bullets

Celtics (39-13) vs. Washington (23-28)
January 31, 1980
Capital Centre

The Celtics ended the first half of the season by embarrassing the back-to-back defending Eastern Conference champions on their home floor.  The NBA landscape was changing: the Celtics had replaced the Bullets as one of the East’s top two teams, and the second half of the season would provide the Lakers with the same opportunity to replace Seattle as the premiere team in the West.

Larry Bird led the Celtics in their 119-103 victory with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists.  After allowing the Bullets to push them around a week earlier at the Garden, the Celtics responded by amplifying their intense and physicality.  The Celtics won the battle of the boards, 47-38.  Another key for the C’s was the play of Eric Fernstern, who appeared to be on the cutting block the moment Pete Maravich was ready to play.  Fernstern, as Bob Ryan noted in the Globe, made his teammates proud with this performance: [Read more…]

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 52 vs. the Cavaliers

Celtics (38-13) vs. Cleveland (23-31)
January 30, 1980
Boston Garden

Bill Fitch must have been happy to be coaching on the home bench for this one.

The Celtics returned to the Boston Garden to defeat the Cavs in their final home game before the All Star break.  After defeating the Bulls the night before, the Celtics traveled back home win and outscored Cleveland, 110-103.  The win marked the 39th victory of the season, which was already ten more than Boston compiled the entire prior season.

Larry Bird and Cedric Maxwell each led the way with 21 points, and Bird added 15 rebounds.  As the Green still waited for Dave Cowens’ injured foot to heal, Rick Robey added 16 and 11, and the Celtics continued to move the ball extremely well.  The starting five dished out 18 assists, and the C’s used a big fourth quarter to close out Fitch’s former club. [Read more…]

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 51 vs. the Bulls

Celtics (37-13) vs. Chicago (18-33)
January 29, 1980
Chicago Stadium

The Celtics continued to build some momentum before the All Star break with a 103-99 victory in Chicago over Jerry Sloan’s Bulls.

 

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 50 vs. the Clippers

Celtics (36-13) vs. San Diego (27-28)
January 27, 1980
Boston Garden

Larry Bird exploded for 36 points — a new career high — as the Celtics regained their edge at the Garden and sent the Clippers away with their sixth straight loss by defeating San Diego, 131-108.  Bird added seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

The Celtics controlled the boards, out-rebounding the Clippers, 55-38.  Rick Robey fought through a pulled groin muscle to deliver 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Cedric Maxwell added 13 boards.  Though the Celtics committed four more turnovers than SD, it was a product of their passing.  Led by Tiny Archibald’s nine assists, the Celtics compiled 14 more assists than the Clippers.  Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe captured the connection the Celtics’ fans had for their team: [Read more…]