Pro Basketball History 1974-76: The Bronzed Basin



Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011

The American Basketball Association managed to produce one more season even as it was in its death throws. With a TV contract, not only did they have enough exposure but they weren’t making nearly enough money to compete with the NBA. George McGinnis actually bought his way out of his contract with the Indiana Pacers so he could sign a far more lucrative one with the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. They did manage a coup when Denver signed the 1st and 3rd NCBA draft choices, David Thompson and Marvin Webster. But such victories were few and far between.

The moribund Memphis franchise moved to Baltimore to became the “Claws”. You’ve never heard of them? That’s because the Claws never played a game. They went out of business before the season ever began. San Diego ceased being the Conquistadors and became the Sails. They sailed off into the sunset after playing 11 games. But the big shock came when the Utah Stars, one of the ABA’s most successful franchises on the court, announced they could no longer stay in business after 16 games. The Virginia Squires played all 84 games but five coaches were able to win only 15 of them. The Spirits of St. Louis did better on the court, (35-49), but few people knew it because they weren’t coming to the games. The league’s most consistently successful franchise, the Indiana Pacers slipped to 39-45 without McGinnis. Billy Knight did his best to make up for the loss, scoring 28.1 ppg. The defending champion Kentucky Colonels sold Dan Issel’s contract to the stillborn Baltimore team before they folded because they couldn’t afford to play Issel’s salary any more. They finished 46-38 thanks to Artis Gilmore, who led the league in rebounding for the fourth time with 15.5 and scored 24.6.

The San Antonio Spurs made what seemed like an even trade; Swen Nater for Billy Paultz but they got the best of it as Nater sustained a knee injury. With Paultz helping Larry Kenon inside and on the board, George Gervin and James Silas filling it up from outside, the Spurs went 50-34. But the best player was still Julius Erving, at the height of his powers, leading the league in scoring with 29.3 along with 11 rebounds and 5 assists a game. If style points were allowed, he’d be way above that. He was the only ABA player I ever heard anyone talk about. But the Nuggets again had the league’s best record at 60-24, despite having to give up Mack Calvin, Mike Green and Jan Van Breda Kloff to Virginia to get the draft rights to Thompson, who scored 26.0/6.0/3.7 and was the next closest thing to Doctor J. and led the Nuggets to a 60-24 record.

There were no divisions. For some reason, (old times sake?), they decided to have a preliminary series between the Colonels and the Pacers, which the Colonels won 2-1. The semi-finals both went 7 games and the finals 6 games, giving the ABA an exciting note to go out on. The last ABA game may have been the greatest.

The Nuggets out-lasted the Colonels in game one, leading by one after one quarter, even at halftime, up by four going into the fourth and winning 110-107. Gilmore and Maurice Lucas both scored 26 for the Colonels while Ralph Simpson and a guard named Chuck Williams totaled 45 for the winners. David Thompson was held to 17 and Dan Issel to 15 but it was enough. But it wasn’t in game two, where the Colonels crushed the Nuggets 138-110, losing the first quarter 35-39 and winning the rest of the game 103-71 in front of the stunned Denver fans. They did it form outside: Louie Dampier, the ABA’s all-time leading scorer, led with 26 points. Johnny Neumann had22 and Bird Averitt 20. Late Acquisition Jim McDaniels, now playing with college rival Artis Gilmore, had 19 while Artis had 16. Issel had 24 and Thompson, still mostly held in check, had 20.

Back in Louisville, the defending champs won again, breaking open a close game with a 38-28 fourth quarter to win 126-114. Averitt went off for 40 points and Gilmore cleaned up inside with 36. Issel could manage only 20 going against his much taller former teammate but Thompson got untracked with 29 and Simpson had 28. But like the Colonels, the Nuggets managed to win a game in the other team’s arena – but just barely 108-106. The Colonels took a 35-26 first quarter lead but the visitors got within 2 by halftime and took a two point lead into the fourth quarter that held up. Issel was held to 12 points and Thompson to 18 but the Nuggets had 6 guys in double figures, led by Simpson with 26. The Colonels also had 6 with Gilmore getting 22 and Averitt 21. It was that close.

The Nuggets took the lead back in Denver, 127-117. A 39-23 third period was the key. Thompson went off for 34 points. Six other teammates were in double figures. Gilmore led the Colonels with 26. The Colonels held serve - barely- with a 119-115 home overtime victory. Denver rallied from 8 points down going into the fourth quarter to tie it. It was Bird Averitt (34 points) vs. Ralph Simpson (35). Issel battled Gilmore for 22 points. Artis had 21. But the Nuggets closed it out at home, 133-110 behind Thompson’s 40 point outburst. Issel out-scored Gilmore 24-17.

The Nets took command early in game one against the Spurs, winning the first quarter 33-18 and pushing the lead to 70-50 at the half, winning 116-101. In a battle of stars, Doctor J (Julius Erving) outscored the Iceman (George Gervin) 31-30. Al Skinner scored 25 for the Nets. But the big news was that the Spurs’ outstanding point guard, James Silas, broke his ankle in this game. A team will either fall part when a major player is lost or come together. It took a quart but the Spurs came together. The Nets took a 23-20 lead in game 2 only to see the Spurs completely turn things around, winning the next there quarters by 13, 5 and 11 points on their way to a 105-79 rout. Doc J got 27 but Larry Kenon got 30, Gervin 22 and Paultz 20. Mike Gale filed in for Silas and scored 14 points.

Back in San Antonio the Spurs took the lead in the series with a 111-103 win. The Nets again won the first quarter, 31-21 but the Spurs won the next three quarters by 5, 7 and 6 points. Erving out-scored Gervin 31-17 but Kenon had 28 and Gale 22. Now it was the Nets’ turn to make a comeback. The Spurs took a 60-52 halftime lead and maintained that lead going into the fourth quarter looking to go up 3-1. But a 38-28 final quarter evened the series again. Erving had 35 and John Williamson 31. Gervin and Paultz each scored 28.

Gave 5 was a replay of Game 4. The Spur won the first period 35-27 but the Nets came back to win by the same exact score 110-108. Dr. J scored 32 but 6 teammates were also in double figures. The Spurs countered with four 20 point guys: Kenon had 27, Gervin 25, Gale 20 and back-up center Coby Dietrich with 20 as well. The fierce competition continued with the Spurs winning game 6 106-105. The won the first three quarters by two points each and held on to win. Erving and Gervin traded baskets all night, Julius winning that battle 41-37 but his team came up short.

Ir ended with the Nets winning game 7 in the Nassau Coliseum 121-114. It was close all the way with the nets leading by 2 at the half and 3 going into the 4th quarter. Gervin lead with 31 points and Kenon had 21 but this time the Nets had four guys with 20+: Erving 28 Williamson 26, Rich jones, a 6-6 forward 25 and Brian Taylor 20.

Then came the final act of the 9 year old circuit. It was a 6 game series with each game being decided by single digits. There was another summit of stars: Julius Erving vs. David Thompson, who could both jump to any summit. In game 1 Erving was 17 for 25 from the field and 11 for 11 from the line, scoring 45 points, including the jumper at the buzzer that won the game, 120-118. Thompson scored 30 on 13/19 and 4/6. The Nuggets had 7 double figure scorers to 4 but lost because of Erving. The Nuggets came back to win game 2 127-121. Incredibly, Erving was even better: 17/26, 12/16 for 48 points. But Ralph Simpson had 25 and Thompson, Bobby Jones and Dan Issel each had 24 points. The Nuggets won the fourth quarter of this game 42-40. At that rate, four quarters would wind up 168-160!

Back on the Island, the Nets won 117-111, thanks to 8 straight Erving points in the final 90 seconds. He wound up with a more modest 31 points but Williamson had 28 and Jones 22. For the Nuggets, Thompson scored 32, Issel 25 and Simpson 23. Then they took a 3-1 lead with a 121-112 win, the margin coming from a 32-23 second quarter. Erving had 34, Williamson 24 and Taylor 23. Issel had 26 and Thompson 23. But the Nuggets weren’t done. A 42-20 third quarter keyed a 118-110 win. Erving scored 37 and no Nugget came close to that but neither did any Net, (Williamson had 24). Thompson had only 19 but Issel and Simpson had 21, Williams 20 and Jones 17. Hit the open man!

Then came the gem that ended it all. Playing in the Nassau Coliseum, the Nuggets won each of the first three periods and built up a 92-78 lead. At its height, their lead was 80-58. David Thompson was on his way to a 42 point game. But the Nets, before 15,000 of their fans, came charging back with a 34-14 fourth quarter to win the title, 112-106. Dan Issel scored 30 in his last ABA game. Erving had 31, (with 19 rebounds), and John Williamson 28, 24 in the second half and Brian Taylor 24. To this day, the Denver franchise, in 50 years, have never won a championship- in the ABA or the NBA.

Both the Nassau Coliseum and the McNichols Arena in Denver, which held 19,000, were packed for every game. But it was too little, too late for the league. Both the Nuggets and the Nets had already applied for admission to the NBA even before the season began. The seven other ABA teams followed suit. The NBA drew a hard bargain, demanding payment of $3.2 million dollars per franchise and charging the nets $4 million more because they were invading the Knick’s territory. The Nets, Nuggets Spurs and Pacers paid the tithe. The Colonels did not and John Y Brown, their owner, bought the Buffalo Braves instead, so the Colonels, who had had one of the best and best supported ABA franchises, went out of existence. The Virginia Squires and the Spirits of St. Louis did the same. From the 1976-77 seasons onward, the story of pro basketball would be the story on one league: the NBA.

After winning the 1975 NBA title, Golden State owner Franklin Mieuli said “Like the Phoenix, we have risen from the ashes”. The next year they returned to ashes, (and didn’t’ re-emerge for four decades). They were replaced as NBA western champions by the Phoenix Suns. The Suns had lost a coin flip for the rights to Lew Alcindor back in 1969 and watched the Milwaukee Bucks become an NBA power, leaving the Suns to build their team more slowly. They’d done a good job of that, reaching a winning record in their third year at 48-34 with Connie Hawkins, Dick Van Arsdale and Paul Silas but faded to 30-52 by 1973-74, despite picking up Charlie Scott from the ABA. They managed to get their heads back above water in 1975-76 with a 42-40 record. They’d traded Scott to Boston for Paul Westphal, who became a star in Phoenix, averaging 20.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. They had a rookie center named Alvin Adams, (just 6-9 210), who averaged 19.0 ppg and 9.1 rpg and 5.6 apg. They had a couple of veteran forwards in Curtis Perry and Garfield heard and still had Dick Van Arsdale in the backcourt – until he broke his arm and had to be replaced by a rookie from UNLV, Rickie Sobers.

It wasn’t a great team but they came together a t the end of the season and caught the attention of the defending champion Warriors, who won the Pacific division with a 59-23 record, the best record in the league. Phil Smith of the Warriors said of the Suns: “Phoenix is ambitious, hungry and has great energy. They’ve had a coming together that reminds me of us”.

The Big news in the west was that the Bucks had finally acceded to Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s request to be traded to the Knicks of Lakers. It turned out to be the Lakers. The result was that a team went from last place to first. That would be the Bucks, who used the players they’d gotten in the trade: Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, David Meyers and Junior Bridgeman to win the Midwest division. However that division was so flat that the Bucks won it with the same record they had had the year before: 38-44. The only team other than the Warriors or the Suns to have a winning record was Bill Russell’s Seattle Supersonics at 43-39. The Lakers stumbled to a 40-42 record, largely because of inadequate forwards, (neither of whom averaged in double figures. Kareem at 27.9p/16.9r was basically their whole front line.

The Knicks could sure have used him. They still had their golden backcourt of Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe but no Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere or Jerry Lucas was up front. They did acquire the services of Spencer Haywood but it wasn’t enough for a winning record at 36-44. The Philadelphia 76ers continued their comeback, having obtained the services of George McGinnis from the ABA. George averaged 23.0p/12.6 and the Sixers went 46-36. George actually first signed with the Knicks but the league negated that because the Sixers still had his draft rights. Bob McAdoo again won the scoring title (31.1p/12.4r) and led Buffalo to the same record, (46-36) and a tie for second in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics won the division with a 54-28 record and the best defense in the league. The front court of the NBA all-defensive team was the Celtic’s front court of John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and Paul Silas. The Washington Bullets didn’t seem fully recovered from the shock of being swept by the Warriors the year before and slipped to 46-34, despite the acquisition of Dave Bing for Kevin Porter. Bing was a star player (abet a 32 year old one) but Porter was a purer point guard. He’d scored 11.6 and gotten 8.0 assists the year before, (and upped that to 12.6/10.5 with the Pistons), Bing averaged 16.2p/6.0a for the Bullets. The Bullets lost 8 of their last 12 games to finish 46-34, allowing the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers to take the Central Division with a 49-33 record. Cleveland had a balanced team of unheralded players with seven guys scoring between 10 and 16 points per game.

Phoenix beat Seattle in 6 games and then upset the defending champion Warriors. The Warriors looked on their way to repeat in the opener, winning 128-103 behind Rick Barry’s 38 points. Nobody else in the game had more than 22. The Warriors won every quarter. But the Suns won the second game 108-101, even though Barry had 44 points. Westphal had 31 and Sobers 23. Adams nearly had a triple double, (13p/11r/9a). The Warriors won in Phoenix 99-91, even though Barry scored only 12 points on 6 for 17 shooting. Jamaal Wilkes led with only 22 points. Defense, depth and balance carried the day. The Warriors had only four double figures scorers but they had 5 other guys who scored between 6 and 9 points. Westphal again led the Suns with 24. The Warriors outscored the home team 51-38 in the second half.

Then came the wild 4th game- the ‘other’ great game of the 1976 post season. The Suns won a high-scoring first quarter 36-30. But the Warriors closed to 65-63 by halftime. It was 91-87 going into the fourth quarter 102 up at the end of regulation. Both teams played close to the vest in the first overtime, 7-7 but opened it up in the second and the Suns pulled it out 133-129. Ex-Laker Keith Erickson led the home team with 28 points but six guys had at least 15 points. Smith led the Warriors with 30. Barry had 26 and Wilkes 24.

The Warriors took the lead again back in Oakland, blowing out to a 40-24 first quarter lead and winning by that margin, 111-95. Again both teams were balanced with Barry and Curtis Perry leading their teams with 23 points. Just one more win and the Warriors would be back in the finals in a series everyone wanted to see- between the least two NBA champions. But it wasn’t to be.

The Suns won another classic, this time in regulation, 105-104, taking charge with a 31-21 third quarter and holding on to win. Barry had 30, Smith 20 and Wilkes 19 but Erickson had 24, Sobers 21 and Heard pulled down 15 rebounds. The Warriors expected to closed it out back in Oakland but got closed out instead, 94-86. The Warriors led at the half 48-42 but Phoenix won the second half 52-38 to crash the finals. They did it with rebounding. Adams had 18p/20r, Heard 21p/12r, Perry 12p/10r. Westphal added 21 points. Barry led the Warriors but with only 20 points.

The Celtics won the title by playing the same script three times in a row: two victories at home, two defeats on the road, a win at home and the clincher on the road. They started by beating the Braves 107-98 and 101-96 in Boston. Bob McAdoo was held to 16 points in the first game but Randy Smith and Jim McMillan backed him up with 27 and 24, respectively. Dave Cowens had a 30/17 game while Jo Jo White got 27 and Havlicek 22. McAdoo went off for 40 in game 2 but Smith and McMillan were held to 18 and 17. Cowens was 27/18, White had 20 and Don Nelson, playing in his final season at age 35, stepped forward with 22.

Havlicek had injured his foot in the first game and didn’t play in the next three. Per “The Picture History of the Boston Celtics” , he “carried a turquoise plastic wash basin under his arms for the remainder of the playoffs, immersing his arch in water twice as often as the doctors advised. “Two Hondo handfuls” he’d say, returning from the hotel ice bin several times a day. “It was just a matter of self-discipline” Havlicek would say later. “It would have bene easy to forget about it, just not play. But that’s where playing on this team all these years helps. I’ve seen so many guys play with a lot worse injuries – Frank Ramsey, K. C. Jones, Bill Russell. I just wanted to do as much as I could. I was just along for the ride. The other guys pulled me along and I was glad to go.” Havlicek missed three games. Then he reinjured the foot against Cleveland in the eastern finals and was limited to two more. But he played in every other contest, 15 of 18 in all, including 58 minutes in the decisive triple overtime victory.” It hurts to be Hondo but if you want to be a champion, you have to overcome pain.

The Braves pulled out two games from the Hondo-less Celtics in Buffalo. They won 98-93 after negating a 12-24 first quarter with a 36-23 second. McAdoo had 24/12 but Smith, a 6-3 guard, had a huge game with 29p/14r/7a. Cowens had 21/14 and White 26 points. Charlie Scott, who might have taken up some of the slack, did not. He’d shot 5/14 in game 2 and scored 14 points, then went 5 for 15 in game 3 for 15 points. He managed 7 for 14 and 16 points in game 3, a 124-122 Braves win. Cowens had a huge game with 29p/26r/8a while White added 28 and old man Nelson 27. But the Braves got 30/17 from McAdoo, 20/14 from John Shumate, the former Notre Dame star, 28 and 10 assists from Smith and 21 points from Ernie DeGregorio.

Havlicek returned for game five in Boston but could score only 8 points on 4 for 13 shooting in 35 minutes. But he contributed to a defensive effort that limited the Braves to only 88 points, 36 in the first half as the Celtics built up a 10 point lead and went on to win 99-88. McAdoo had 23/14 but Smith was held to 13 points and 4 assists. Cowens was 30/16, Sials 15/22 and White added 19 points. Then the Celtics pulled it out and closed it out with a 104-100 win in Buffalo. Havlicek scored only 14 points but Charlie Scott finally broke out with 31 and White had 23. McAdoo went down fighting with 28/14 while Smith had 24 but the Celtics moved on.

The Celtics then won two in Boston over Cleveland by 111-94 and 94-89. The first win was triggered by a 32-20 first quarter and a 34-22 fourth. Havlicek was back, hitting 12 of 19 shots for 26 points. Jo Jo White had 21 and Paul Silas had 21/12. The Cavs were devoid of stars but Campy Russell, (who went to Michigan but was not related to Cazzie), scored 21 as did former Davidson star Dick Snyder. A 26-18 fourth quarter won game 2. Nobody scored 20 for the Cavs. Snyder and Bingo Smith, (Bingo Smith?) led with 16. But they had 6 double figure scorers to 4. But the Celtics got 24 from White and 20 from Havlicek.

Then came the two losses in Cleveland. Havlicek was 4 for 14 for 9 points but Charlie Scott was worse: 4 for 17 for 8 points. Jo Jo White led with 22. The Cavs didn’t do much better. Jim Cleamons led them with only 18 points. (Jim Cleamons?) There were plenty of rebounds: Silas had 21 and Cowens 22. The Celtics were +19 on the boards but only shot 34%. Then came a 106-87 blow-out, keyed by a 33-17 final quarter. Bingo Smith again led the Cavs with 27 and had four teammates in double figures. This was when Havlicek reinjured his knee and played only 6 minutes without scoring. White led Boston with 23. Scott had 19 but missed 9 of 16 shots.

Havlicek only played 5 minutes in game 5 and scored 2 points but his teammates picked him up with a 99-94 home win. Cowens had 26 and Scott 22 while Cleamons again led the Cavs with just 18 points. Then they went back to Cleveland and won a similar game, 94-87. A 27-18 final quarter clinched it. White had 29, Cowens 21 and Scott 20. Havlicek, still hobbled, was 1 for 5 for 4 points in 23 minutes. The Cavs finally came up with a name player- Austin Carr scored 26 points. But it was too late for them and Boston moved into the finals.

Now came Phoenix. The opening wins in Boston were decisive enough: 98-87 and 105-90. Cowens had a triple double in opener and it wasn’t just barely: 25p/21r/10a. Havlciek was 7 for 12 and scored 16 points. White added 22. Adams led Phoenix with 26 points but no other Sun had more than 13. A 34-16 third quarter, including a 20-2 run. won the second game. Westphal scored 28 points while Adams had 19/15. Havlicek led Boston with 23. Silas (12/17) and Cowen (16/12), gave the Celtics a +16 edge on the boards.

Paul Silas: “it felt more like January than May. It didn’t seem like a playoff game.” Jo Jo White: “This team is like a Swiss watch, a bunch of different parts working together.” Meanwhile Phoenix newspapers complained about rough play by the Celtics and how the referees were permitting it. White: “Every team cries about the same thing. Look, if you let a team do all they want to, they’re going to crush you. But stop the, and they get mad.”

The two losses in Phoenix were by 98-105 and 107-109. The Suns bolted to a 26-17 first quarter and a 52-39 halftime lead in game 3. Adams had 33 points and 14 rebounds and Westphal had 22. Jo Jo white scored 24 but no other Celtic had more than 13 points. In game 4, the Suns took a 35-30 lead after one and just fought off the Celtics the rest of the way. Westphal had 28 points and Adams 20 but Garfield heard was the key with 19p/15r. White led the Celtics with 25 while Cowens had 22/12 and Silas 18/14.

Tommy Heinsohn: ”The newspapers beat us. I didn’t know the power of the press was that big. We were lucky to run up and down the floor. That was hometown cooking. That’s what it was.” The Celtics had been called for 68 fouls in the two games, to 61 for the Suns. It was in this series that Dave Cowens got sick of Mike Newlin’s “seat of the pants slide” technique for drawing offensive fouls. He gave Newlin a forearm shiver and got called for a technical foul for “unnecessary roughness”. He went over and said to the referee “Now THAT’s a foul!”

The greatest baseball game ever played may have been the penultimate game of the 1975 World Series, played in Fenway Park, Boston on October 21, 1975.

1975 World Series Game 6 Carlton Fisk Walk Off

The greatest pro basketball game ever played may have been the penultimate game of the 1976 NBA Finals, played at the Boston Garden on June 4th, 1976.

1976 NBA Finals Game 5 Heard Shot Round The World

The Celtics blew out to a 32-12 lead in game 5, an apparent rout. The biggest lead was 42-20. By halftime, the Celtics were still in command at 61-45. A 27-16 third quarter got the Suns to within 77-72. The Celtics pushed it back out to 92-83 with 3:49 to play. But Westphal scored 9 of his team’s last 11 points to force the game into overtime at 95 all. The two teams missed two free throws each in the final minute. Both teams played very conservatively in the first over time when only 6 points were scored by either team. With seconds left, Paul Silas called a time out the Celtics didn’t have. Referee Richie Powers saw it and elected to ignore it and let the clock run out.

In the unforgettable second overtime, the cautious play continued but the Celtics forged a 109-106 lead with 15 seconds left and their fans were shouting “we’re #1. Then Dick Van Arsdale hit a jumper from the corner. Paul Westphal made a steal. Curtis Perry missed a shot but got the rebound and scored. Suddenly, the Suns led 110-109 with four seconds left. The Celtics raced down court and Havlicek hit an off-balance, leaping shot that in some ways resembled Bobby Orr’s famous “flying goal” in the 1970 Stanley Cup, except Orr’s leap was after the goal in celebration of it. Havlicek’s leap was to get his shot off.

Fred Cusick's original call of Bobby Orr's goal 5/10/1970

The Celtics, thinking the clock had run out, ran for the locker room as their fans stormed the court. Richie Powers signaled that there were 2 seconds left and a fan stormed him. It took quite a time to clear the court and in that time, Westpahl had an idea. Why not do what Silas did and call a time out the Suns didn’t have. Under the rules of the time, that produced one free throw and possession at half court of the other team, (they didn’t automatically get it as is down now). Coach John McLeod agreed. The refs called it this time and White shot the free throw to make it 112-110. The two teams lined up at mid-court and Garfield Heard, an unlikely choice for a 22 shot, caught the inbounds pass, turned and shot the ball almost straight into the air. But it came down and settled into the basket. It would not have bene a three pointer today and thus couldn’t have one the game now, as some think. But it tied the game up in 1976 and sent it into a third overtime. Both teams had to use their benches due to foul trouble and the result was a loser scoring 5 minutes which the Celtics won 16-14 thanks to 6 points from the little used Glenn McDonald. The final was 128-126. The Suns had 5 double figure scorers- their starters: Westphal and Sobers (25 each), Perry (23), Adams (20) and heard (17). But it was Heard’s shot that everyone remembered. The Celtics had four double figure guys: White scored 33, Cowens 26, Havlicek 22 and Silas 17. Then there were the minutes. Heard played 61, White 60 and Havlicek 58, (with his bad foot).

Garfield Heard: “We know we’re going to beat them. It’s going to take seven now but we know we’re going to beat them. We showed we came to play.”

The series ended with an anti-climactic 87-80 Celtic victory in Phoenix. The two teams “traded hand checks” in the first half as the Celtics built up a 38-33 lead. The Suns came back to take the lead briefly at 67-66. “But Cowens, Havlicek and Scott took over from there. Havlicek hit two free throws, then Cowens stole the ball, drove, scored, drew the foul and made the extra shot for a three point play. Then Cowens scored two baskets and Havlicek another one to put it away”. (“The NBA Finals”)

In the locker room after the game, Havlicek contemplated his turquoise wash basin. “I might get it bronzed. “
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