1985 - 1986 Boston Celtics
G3 Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston Celtics 106-117
Celtics Down Bucks 117-106 in Home Opener
Appropriately enough, it was Mr. Young Frankenstein himself (a/k/a Kevin McHale) who secured this monster mash victory on Halloween night. Shrugging off a dismal first half, McHale erupted for 20 points after intermission to hold off the over-achieving Bucks. He had plenty of help from Dennis Johnson (24 points, Larry Bird (22) and especially Robert Parish (20 points, 13 rebounds).
The victory won't go far toward soothing the nerves of restless fandom. The Celts let a 17-point third quarter lead dwindle to three and again got little help from the vaunted new depth. Coach K.C. Jones was forced to use his trusty old starters for the entire fourth quarter.
Bird snapped out of his five-month shooting slump by hitting seven of seven floor shots in the first half, but missed the third quarter due to back and/or foul trouble.
The evening started nicely for Bird. Spitting in the eye of renown Bird- Buster Paul Pressey, Boston's MVP scored 20 in the first two quarters. But he suffered a nasty fall late in the first half and sat out the entire third quarter (he had four fouls at intermission). Bird was back on the floor for the fourth period and made some nifty passes to help thwart Milwaukee's comeback bid.
Boston built its first-half lead gradually. The Celtics came out running and hit six of their first eight shots. Bird had four rebounds and two baskets (a layup off the break and a perimeter shot) before coming out with 3:05 left in the first period. The Celts led, 23-20, at that juncture.
Twenty-five seconds later, Bill Walton made his regular-season Celtic Garden debut and was awarded the standard standing ovation. Walton would end up with four fouls and four turnovers before halftime.
Three free throws by Walton pushed Boston's lead to seven before Pressey closed the quarter with a buzzer-beating jumper to make it 30-25.
Jones started the second quarter with the unlikely quintet of Walton, Scott Wedman, Sly Williams, Jerry Sichting and Rick Carlisle. Bird relieved Sly after three minutes.
Wedman scored Boston's first three baskets of the second period while Ricky Pierce was doing most of the damage for the Bucks.
Then Bird took over for Wedman, scoring 16 points in 5:34. It started with two free throws, a runner, a fallaway, and a fall-down (as he was fouled), giving the Celtics a 10-point lead with 6:47 left in the half. By then, Jones had a rested Parish and McHale in the game.
The Celts got a scare when Bird went sprawling out of bounds after his next basket. He was fouled by Bryan Warrick and appeared to be in considerable pain. Rather than show that his back was hurting, Bird dusted himself off and made his free throw to push the lead to 13.
A minute later, Bird embarrassed Pressey with a spin-baseline move to make it 58-43. Bird left with 3:30 left in the half. In fairness, it should be pointed out that the Celts built the lead while a guy named Sidney Moncrief (knee tendinitis) was on the Milwaukee bench. Boston settled for 62-51 at halftime.
The Celts enjoyed a 17-point lead (68-51) early in the third quarter, but some red flags went up when Bird started the quarter on the bench. Trainer Ray Melchiorre insisted that it was because of foul trouble. With 4:25 left in the third period, Bird and Melchiorre went to the Celtic locker room ("to stretch," according to team physician Thomas Silva).
Meanwhile, Pressey, Moncrief and Pierce (26 points) were cutting into the Celtic lead. After Walton went to the bench with his fifth foul and Greg Kite manned the middle, Milwaukee closed the gap to 78-71. McHale got hot, and the Celts led, 87-78, at the end of three.
Bird re-emerged from the locker room with 28 seconds left in the third period. He was back on the floor for the start of the fourth - with the rest of the Celtic starters.
The Bucks kept charging. Bird missed his first shot, then committed a turnover which allowed Terry Cummings (17 points) to trim the Celtics' lead to three (89-86).
Boston's starters went back to work and slowly rebuilt the lead. Two minutes after Bucks coach Don Nelson was ejected by Jim Capers, DJ canned a baseline jumper (off a Bird feed) and it was 105-94.
A McHale turnaround with 3:10 to play make it 107-96. The Bucks called time, but couldn't contain McHale and DJ the rest of the way.