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Lessons from the greatest NBA team ever assembled - the 1985-86 Celtics


I just finished watching a rerun of the 1986 NBA Finals contest that resulted in Boston's 16th Banner. It was June 8, 1986 at Boston Garden, and this Game-6 pitted Houston's Twin-Tower front court of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson against the Celtics Big-3 of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Larry Bird. The lessons from the contest follow:

Try to draft as many Larry Birds as you can during your tenure as GM. 

Larry outplayed both Hakeem and Ralph in this one. He had a triple-double of 29pts., 11 boards, 12 assists and three steals. He looked totally exhausted at the finish. He gave it eveerything he had.

The Celtics game was all about ball-movement.

Despite having the Big-3, there was no concerted push to get the ball inside to Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. And there was no running to the corners begging for the ball to launch a 3-pointer. As a matter of fact, at least once, Bird ran WITH the ball out to the corner to nail a trey. But he MOVED out there. Even Danny Ainge, a notorious gunner, might dwell out side for a second or two, and then quickly dart down the baseline. 

Boston took advantage of every fast break possible. 

They would slow it down when they had to, but fast, long outlets and running down court were prevalent.

No complacency

At the 2:49 mark of the game and the Celtics leading 106-82, the five starters were still out on the floor, taking nothing for granted. The starting-5 were still battling as though they trailed by 20 points.Bird, Parish, McHale, Ainge and Dennis Johnson came off the floor shortly thereafter. 

GMs can be tough, but they need to have a heart

K C Jones, after his coaching stint with the Baltimore Bullets, had a tough time landing another head-coaching gig. Red Auerbach brought him into the fold as an assistant coach, and K C got the head job in 1983, resulting in two Titles (1984, 1986). 

The NBA game has become too complex. Simplicity, hard work, toughness and team play win Titles.

Okay, not every team can be fortunate enough to have a Larry Bird. But there has been a trend for years in the NBA for coaches not wanting to be labeled for "under-coaching". Complex Xs-and-Os plays on both ends of the floor have taken over. Player-instinct, demonstrated by guys like Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, has virtually disappeared, replaced by the NBA's version of 3-dimensional chess.

 









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