Spoiler Alert: This is Larry Bird’s last game.
Bird’s back gave up on him this season. He missed all of January and February, hit a game tying 3 with Drexler draped all over him in March, then missed the last 8 games and a first round 3 game sweep of the Indiana Pacers.
The Cavs got the 2nd seed with a 57 win season, and beating the Nets 3-1 set up a second round matchup with the aging-but-still-a-3-seed Celtics.
Bird only comes back in game 4, and only re-enters the starting lineup in game 6, a Celtics win to force game 7 in Cleveland.
PG: John Bagley v Mark Price
SG: Reggie Lewis v Craig Ehlo
SF: Kevin Gamble v Mike Sanders
PF: Larry Bird v Larry Nance
C: Robert Parish v Brad Daugherty
Coach: Chris Ford v Lenny Wilkens, who I think was born with the “bald at the front / afro at the back” look and probably still has it now.
The first play of the game the Celtics go to 38 year old Parish, which leads to a turnover and Craig Ehlo fast break. The next play they learn from their mistake, Bird hitting a shot in both faces of Mike Sanders and Nance. Parish then shows he’s not done yet with an actual “Parish”.
Price and Daugherty start out on fire though, putting the Cavs up 19-8 and forcing a Boston timeout. This gives the camera a chance to show the rows full of pastel polo shirts tucked into high jeans, such was the early-Seinfeld fashion at the time. One shot actually shows a dead ringer for Seinfeld’s brother, Adam Wilson, holding up a Let’s Go Cavs sign. Quite a few big mos as well dancing away to Old TIme Rock n Roll.
Dee Brown, Kevin McHale and Ed Pinckney come in for the Celtics, with Hot Rod injecting himself into the game for the Cavs. Bird hits again, but the Cavs continue to roll, going up 29-14, leaving the Celtics rattled and The Final Countdown on the PA.
Putting Joe Kleine in for Bird didn’t help either.
Cleveland 35 – Boston 21
The Celtics’ leading scorer, Reggie Lewis, starts out 0/4, and on his 5th shot attempt, he loses his shoe. A close up of his shoes reveals the high percentage of players wearing Reebok Pumps. I’d be disappointed if Dee Brown wasn’t one of them.
The Cavs start the second quarter as they left off the first, behind good play from Larry Nance, who wouldn’t have too much trouble going to a fancy dress party dressed as a vampire. Count Nancula.
Robert Parish, who has had an up and down series, is limping around like Melvin Thomas. He’s the oldest player in the league and at times this game he looks it. But he would go on to play 5 more seasons after this. Surely the longest anyone has held the title of “oldest player in the league”.
McHale keeps Boston in it, and Reggie Lewis wakes up and hits 4 straight shots. A Bird around-the-back layup gets the Celtics within 12. The Cavs take a timeout to steady the ship and listen to EMF’s Unbelievable, and end the half strongly.
Cleveland 63 – Boston 47
Cotton Fitzsimons is commentating this game, and there were whispers over whether the Celtics were better without Bird. On cue, Bird finds himself with a visibly-terrified Ehlo guarding him, the scorebench already marking down the 2 points.
Both teams start the second half cold though, with a short spurt by the Cavs getting them up 20. Cotton remarks that when McHale runs it always looks like he’s in pain. Maybe he just needs to take the coat hanger out of his jersey.
Gamble finds himself on a fast break for an easy layup and then…OH! WHAT A BLOCK BY EHLO! Price comes back the other way…and hits a driving layup. Too much Price and Daugherty for the Celtics to handle and the Cavs go up 25.
This fires up the crowd, which included lookalikes of a guy from Saved By The Bell, Marcie from Married With Children and Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years without glasses.
Lewis, averaging 28ppg this series, hits a couple of shots before Ed Pinckney does a good Charles Smith impression, giving blocks to Nance and Hot Rod, who himself has got a bit of Charles Smith about him.
The camera shows us a prolonged big closeup of Steve Kerr for some reason. His face covers half the screen. The commentators’ conversation turns to the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery and who will get the #1 pick to draft Shaquille O’Neal.
Daugherty ends the quarter with 25 points on 9/11 shooting. He’s dominating Parish, and there’s no way watching this game you would believe he only has 2 seasons left in him and Parish 5.
Cleveland 95 – Boston 71
This game is over, and questions turn to whether this is Larry Bird’s last ever quarter.
After a couple of Cavs early buckets, the Celtics get so desperate that McHale is shooting 3s. The Cavs are so confident, Danny Ferry comes on.
Bird sits for the last time early in the quarter and we see Rick Fox, along with Bobby Phills, Steve Kerr, John Battle and Henry James.
I’ll save you the garbage time.
Daugherty 28pts, 9reb, 6ast, 3blk
Hot Rod 20pts, 8reb, 4blk
Nance 15pts, 9reb, 8ast
Reggie Lewis 22
Dee Brown 18
Larry Bird 12
So that’s how it ended for Bird, and in the space of one season, the main attractions of the 1980s in Magic and Bird were both lost to the NBA, with one last run left with Christian Leattner’s Dream Team. The winner of this series went on to play Jordan’s Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Had the Celtics got through, do you think they’d have a chance Michael?