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Bill's game report - season opener

Following on from the great suggestion to revisit some of Bill's game
reports, here is the first one from last season. It might be interesting to
comment on them with the benefit of a season's hindsight. For anyone who
wants to dig through the archives (located at
http://www.igtc.com/archives/celtics), it might also be interesting to post
some of our early impressions from last season as well - maybe a thread
along the lines of "Chauncey will grow old with us" or "Popeye Jones is a
thug" or "Chris Mills - just what we need". Might be good for a laugh.

My impressions of this one: who woulda thunk back on Hallowe'en that Barros
would also finish the season as our starting point guard?

Celts off to Great Start: Boston 92 - Chicago 85

        The Rick Pitino era started out as well as anyone could have
hoped for tonight.  We've all seen, many times (including the last 2
season openers), a young eager team come out of the gate fast, build
up a lead on the Bulls, and then see themselves get dominated when the
Bulls turn up the intensity.  This was nearly a mirror image of that
scenario tonight, as the Bulls started out fast, and the Celtics
reeled them in.  If not for the usual aid and comfort, His Airness
received from he refs, the Celts would have won this game going away.

        A win was the farthest thing from anyone's mind who watched
the Celts in the first quarter.  The C's had that "4th game of a west
coast road trip look", as they continually turned over the ball, and
fed the Bulls for easy fast break baskets.  3 of the first 5 shots the
Celts put up in the game were total airballs, as the Bulls took an 8-2
lead.  Things just kept getting worse, as the lead went up to 14 at
22-8. and then 20 at 32-12, which was the score at the end of the
half.  Little did anyone imagine that the Bulls would only score
another 53 points.  TNN reported that the Bulls had 10 layups in the
1st quarter.

        The Celts began to put things together on the offensive end.
They scored the first 6 points of the 2nd quarter, and more
importantly threw more passes to their teammates than they did to the
Bulls.  Without the direct aid from the Celts, the Bulls offense began
to sputter, and the Celts got the lead down to 12 at 36-24.  Chauncey
Billups came into the game and played well (especially a fabulous
drive/dish combo to Toine).  The Celts ended the half by scoring the
last 4 points, off some good work by Bruce Bowen, to cut the lead to
9, at 43-34 going into halftime.  The C's outscored the Bulls 22-11 in
the second quarter.

        The third quarter has been the Bulls best over the years, and
the way it went tonight, is probably a good measure of how far the
Bulls have fallen.    The Celts outscored the Bulls 13-4, as a McCarty
jam off a Barros feed tied the game at 47-47.  The Celts took the lead
for the first time in the game, on the next possession as DeClercq
stole the ball, and McCarty scored again.  The Bulls were able to knot
the score at  49-49, but Toine respoinded with a 3 pointer to give the
Celts the lead for good.  The Toine 3 started another C's run of 19-7,
which pushed the Celts lead up to 12 at 68-56.  Billups again played
well during the period.  Rodman closed out the scoring with a
turnaround, and the Celts went into the 4th period leading 68-58,
having outscored the Bulls 34-15 in the period.

        Predictably the Bulls went to Jordan in the 4th, and he did
come close to pulling the irons out of the fire for them.  The Bulls
cut the C's lead to 76-67.  The Celts were rushing Jordan with 3 or 4
players every time he got the ball, but he was generally getting to
the foul line, or passing the ball to teammate for easy baskets..
Still, with 4:45 left Walker hit a jumper (31st point of the game) to
make the score 83-72.  The Celts would only score one more basket in
the game.  The Bulls outscored the Celts 9-3 over the next 4 minutes,
as Jordan went 6-8 on free throws.  The only Celtic's score was a very
nice Mercer basket and free throw combination, off a gorgeous Walker
pass.  With 1:00 left in the game the Bulls had pulled to within 3
points at 86-83.  Amazingly, the refs actually  called the game fairly
evenly from here on out.  On the next play Barros tried to drive to
the basket and collided with Ron Brown.  The call clearly could have
gone either way, but the C's got the call and the ball back.  The
Celts then cleared out the right side of the court for Walker to go at
Rodman.  After about 63 fakes, Toine stepped back to go around Dennis
and stepped on the sideline, turning the ball over.  On the next play,
though, Jordan tried to shoot over 3 Celtics, missed (and amazingly ,
didn't get a foul call), and then Longley fouled Knight in the ensuing
rebounding action (Knight went to the line, because the earlier call
in Barros's favor put the Bulls in the penalty).  Travis knocked both
of the throws down with ease, and the Celts were up 88-83.  The Bulls
couldn't score on their next possession and there was nothing left for
them to do but foul intentionally.  Dee and Billups hit all their free
throws and the Celts closed the game out 92-85.

        The stats from this game turned out to be pretty even.  The
Celts actually shot better than the Bulls (after the Bulls shot 70% in
the first quarter and the Celts shot 28%).   The was despite the Celts
trying 18 threes (made 5) to the Bulls 8 (1).  Of course the Bulls
went to line 29 times to the Celts 15, and after that horrendous start
turnovers were relatively even with the Bulls having 21 and the Celts

Starting Lineups:
Celts: Barros, Mercer, McCarty, Walker, Knight
Bulls:Harper, Jordan, Kukoc, Caffey, Longley

Walker: looking at the stat sheet for this game, you would think that
Toine totally dominated the game.  He scored 31 (13-26), had 8 boards,
2 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks, as well as 7 turnovers.  As you can
probably guess, despite the high points total, he was not all that
effective on the offensive end, especially with the 7 turnovers.  He
was a monster on the defensive end in the 2nd half, though.  He
continually harassed the Bulls, stripping the ball loose many more
time than the 5 steals would suggest.

Knight: Was absolutely terrible early,as he shot a couple of airballs
and turned over the ball 3 or 4 times in the first quarter.  He came
back and played a huge 2nd half on the boards and on the defesive end.
He came away with 8 points, 13 boards and 2 blocks in 34 mintues.  Did
an excellent job on the defensive boards and came up with a couple of
nice blocks.

Billups: had his best stint of his young career (perhaps the papers
lit a fire under him).  He didn't try to be a point guard, as he has
in other games.  Instead he just did his drive and dish (punctuated by
the occasional pull-up jumper), as he scored 15 points and added 4
assists nd a 2 steals in 17 minutes.  Hubie Brown and Dick Stockton
were openly wondering what the Boston papers were talking about.

Bowen: very nice game, as he played fine defense, looked good taking
his shot and helped out on the boards with 6.
McCarty: Shot the ball very poorly to start the game.  But he
regrouped in the second half and contributed 9 points and 6 boards in
just 20 minutes.  His playing time was severly restricted by foul

Barros: Got 31 minutes, and hit a couple of threes.  Other than that
was very quiet, and had a hard time getting any shots.

Mercer: nice regualr season debut for the rook.  Officially he drew
the assignment of guarding Jordan, and really never looked bad.  In
fact, though, the Celts threw everything except the kitchen sink at
MJ, trying to force him to give the ball up. Mercer had a solid night
on the offensive end also, with 11 points on 5-10 shooting.

Brown: Got MJ when Mercer wasn't on the floor, and got a little of the
Jordan treatment, as MJ went over him for baskets several times.  Dee
contested everytihing though.  Not much to speak of otherwise, as Dee
was 1-5 from the floor in 19 minutes.=20

DeClercq and Thomas: 18 minutes between them, gathered 5 boards,
scored 2 points and committed 6 fouls (5 of those by Andrew).  Thomas
looked like he belonged physically: that's about all I can say yet.

Pervis- Only played for 4 minutes, as he is just to slow for this

Jones- Didn't play as he was still suspended from the brawl in last
years playoffs between the Knicks and the Heat.

Coaching: The general consensus about this game is that the Bulls are
just not in shape yet, and that the Celts physicaly just ran them off
the court.  This is certainly true about Rodman (although he looked
pretty fit in his 24 minutes, with 10 points and 9 boards).  I did
think that Pitino did some smart things in the game though.  The big
thing was to send players in waves after Jordan,  as soon as he
started to dribble.  The Celts didn't wait for Jordan to penetrate,
but instead forced him to pass the ball towards the basket.  In
general the Bulls big people didn't react well under the boards with
the ball.  And of course when Jodan tried to shoot over all those
people, he ended up shooting 7-23.

Da Bulls: I'm sure this game is going to have some other NBA clubs
salivating, as they can certainly imagine having home court advantage
in the playoffs agasint the Bulls.  Without Pippen, and with Kukoc
playing at 1/2 speed, the Bulls offense is down to just Jordan.  It
almost reminds you of the way the team was back in the 80's.  Just
that Mike is to smart (or to old) to score 63 is a losing cause.

Bill Cooper

P.S. Kudos to Gene and all other who predicted a C's win.