"Cedric Maxwell has had to adjust his game more, make more sacrifices and overcome more than any other Celtic the last two years," said Boston Coach Bill Fitch.
"Larry Bird gets a lot of the credit, and deservedly so, but Cedric is one of the players I'm most proud of for what he has accomplished. When Larry came, we needed a defensive forward, not a scorer, so Cedric became it. We needed a leader and he became one. Whatever we've needed, Cedric is the one who's made the adjustment to give it to us."
And now, Maxwell and the rest of the Boston Celtics are champions of the NBA after their 102-91 victory over the Houston Rockets Thursday night. Boston won the best-of-seven series, 4-2, and Maxwell was named the series' most valuable player.
Maxwell's most dazzling performance was a 28-points, 15-rebound effort in the fifth game in Boston, but he was the steadiest Celtic throughout, finishing the series as their leading scorer (17.6 points a game) and second-leading rebounder (9.5 a game). He also spent many minuutes fighting Moses Malone inside.
While Philadelphia's Julius Erving was lauded for his defensive work against Bird in the Eastern Conference semifinal series, Maxwell quietly stifled Erving's offense. The Celtics can win without Bird scoring a lot, but the Sixers can't win if Erving doesn't score.
Together, Maxwell and Bird clearly deserve consideration as the best pair of forwards in the league. Both can run, rebound, shoot, handle the ball and play defense. They also work well together.
Bird broke out of a scoring slump with a 27-point game Thursday, much of it because of the help he got from Maxwell.
"You run, you're the decoy," Fitch told Maxwell. And run Maxwell did."He was taking two Rockets with him in the transition and that left Larry open on the break," Fitch said. "Max fills the lane every time. There's no forward in the league who can stay with him."
"The guy can do everything that has to be done," said Rocket Coach Del Harris.
The Celtics appeared to have the game under control early in the fourth period with an 84-67 lead. But they then went scoreless for almost five minutes and the Rockets scored 11 straight points to make it a game again.
The Rockets got within 86-83 with 4:23 remaining, but Bird scored on a baseline jumper, drew a charging foul against Houston's Tom Henderson at the other end of the floor and then made another long jumper to give the Celtics a 90-83 lead.
The Rockets got within three points again with 1:50 left, but Bird, without hesitation, went to the left corner and scored on a three-point shot that finished Houston.
This was Boston's 14th NBA championship and its first since 1976. The Celtics also became the first team since the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers to win the title after finishing the regular season with the league's best record.
The Celtics received a total of $398,500 for winning the championship. The Rockets' share was $295,000.