Celtics (13-4) vs. Pacers (9-12)
Friday, November 23
Just a month after the Celtics dropped their first game of the season in Indiana to the Pacers, Boston looked for a little retribution on their home floor. The Pacers were struggling coming into the Garden, having lost three of the last four. The Celtics smelled blood against Slick Leonard’s bunch and allowed Red Auerbach to enjoy his victory cigar as Larry Bird dropped 30 points for the first time in his NBA career in a 118-103 victory over the Pacers.
The two games against the Pacers really highlighted Bird’s progress. In the first affair on October 20, Bird shot a respectable 8-for-12, finished with 20/2/4, and though he still managed four steals, he fouled out in only 22 minutes of play. The November 23 game fared much differently. Bird played 37 minutes and became the featured man on the offensive attack (he attempted 29 shots, while the rest of the starting five put up a combined 35). Still plagued by turnover issues, finishing with 7, Bird hit the glass for 11 rebounds.
Though Bird finished with his career high, the argument could be made that Cedric Maxwell played the more efficient game of the two. Max shot 50% from the field, finishing just 4-for-8, but was perfect from the free throw line (6-for-6), was a monster on the offensive glass, and added a couple of steals and assists.
The Celtics outscored the Pacers in all four quarters, and turned a four-point halftime lead into a 10-point lead after three. Tiny Archibald finished with another 9 turnovers (while allowing turning the ball over twice), and displayed his ability to get to the line. Seven of his 11 points were free throws. M.L. Carr delivered 19 points off the bench in just 22 minutes, Chris Ford chipped in 12 points, and Dave Cowens led the C’s with 14 rebounds. Overall, the Celtics dominated both sides of the glass, fighting for 19 more rebounds in the game’s most deciding stat in the Celtics’ sixth sellout in nine home games.
The Celtics returned to play the following night, their third game in four games, in Atlanta against Hubie Brown’s Hawks.