Celtics vs. Nets
October 31, 1979
Wednesday – Rutgers Athletic Center
Halloween in Piscataway is normally not described as a “treat,” and that was no different in 1979. The Celtics, however, dished out all the tricks to a New Jersey Nets team already in shambles, arriving at the Rutgers Athletic Center looking to keep pace with the undefeated 76ers in the standings. The six game road trip was mercifully coming to an end, and after a sluggish start in Indiana and San Antonio, the Celtics looked to win their third straight game on the road.
NJ (2-6) entered the contest with a little momentum, defeating Houston to end a six game losing streak. The C’s struck early, going straight for the jugular, allowing only 11 first quarter points and leading by 21 after twelve minutes of play. The lead grew to 24 by the half, 32 at the end of the three, and the Celtics finished with a 37-point victory, their largest margin of victory — and lowest amount of points allowed — of the season.
Larry Bird continued his phenomenal rookie season with an 18/7/6 assault, while Cedric Maxwell completely dominated the Nets with 25 points, 12 boards, and 8 (8!) assists. Rick Robey, who had just bought a house with his wife in Hingham that summer, continued to make an impact as well, adding 11/9. Only 15 minutes of play came to Dave Cowens, who received some rest, and Chris Ford contributed 13 points and 5 assists in his homecoming to New Jersey.
For those keeping score, the Nets were whistled for the game’s only 3-second violation.
The Celtics returned to action on Saturday to wrap up the road trip in Washington.
UPDATED STANDINGS THROUGH OCTOBER 31, 1979
1. Philadelphia 76ers (8-1, though about to drop to 8-2 after consecutive losses, one at home and the other on the road, to Hubie Brown’s Hawks — who would have thought the NBA and Hockey East had something in common with these home-and-away series?)
2. Boston Celtics (7-2)
3. New York Knickerbockers (5-5)
4. Washington Bullets (3-5)
5. New Jersey Nets (2-7)
1. San Antonio Spurs (6-3)
2. Atlanta Hawks (6-5)
3. Indiana Pacers (5-6)
4. Detroit Pistons (4-5, but coached — until his firing on November 8 — by Dickie V, baby!)
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-8)
6. Houston Rockets (2-7, though about to rip off a 7-game winning streak)
1. Milwaukee Bucks (9-1, a league-best, and about to reel off their tenth straight victory — also drafted Sidney Moncrief, who was this close to going to the Lakers on draft day)
2. Kansas City Kings (5-5, and wouldn’t move to Sacramento until 1985)
3. Chicago Bulls (3-8, coached by Bulls great Jerry Sloan — and still reeling after the career-ending injury of everything-guard Ken Reeves)
4. Utah Jazz (2-7)
5. Denver Nuggets (2-8, coached by longtime Pacers/Knicks executive Donnie Walsh)
1. Portland Trailblazers (9-2 after opening the season with nine straight victories)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (7-3, featuring, of course, a game-changing rookie out of Michigan State)
3. Phoenix Suns (7-4)
4. Seattle Supersonics (5-5)
5. Golden State Warriors (5-5, featuring multiple Celtics connections with Jo Jo White, Robert Parish, and future Celtics assistant coach Clifford Ray all on the roster)
6. San Diego Clippers (4-7, and already missing star Bill Walton, who went onto play only 14 games after missing the entire ’78’-’79 season)