The Milwaukee Bucks not only eliminated the Boston Celtics from the playoffs tonight with a 107-93 victory that completed a four game sweep of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, but they left the once proud and mighty Celtics in a crumbled, embarrassed heap.
This was the first time Boston has ever been swept in a best-of-seven series.
"I've never been this embarrassed in my entire career," said Larry Bird, "and this is going to hurt for a long time because we didn't play to our potential. When we were backed against the wall and challenged, we were supposed to come through like the champions I thought we were, and we didn't. We embarrassed ourselves and I'll live with that the rest of my life."
The Bucks, led by Marques Johnson with 33 points and Sidney Moncrief with 25, advanced to the conference final against the Philadelphia 76ers. That best-of-seven series will begin Sunday at the Spectrum.
The 76ers gained the final by sweeping the New York Knicks in four games.
Milwaukee was in control of tonight's game, just as it was in every game of the series, but never did the Bucks play better than this night.
Their double-teaming defense limited the Celtics to 40 percent shooting and they outrebounded Boston, 49-38. The Bucks made 27 of 30 free throws.
That was only part of the story, though. The Bucks ran past and dunked over the Celtics seemingly all game long. The first three games of the series were hard work, but tonight it looked like fun. Everything the Bucks did worked and the Celtics could do nothing to save themselves.
"I know a lot of Boston fans are wondering what happened to their Celtics," said Moncrief, "but they just got beaten by a better team at the time."
Celtics Coach Bill Fitch agreed. "Not even Philadelphia took us apart like we were taken apart in this series," he said.
The Celtics were outrebounded in all four games and never scored more than 99 points in any of the games.
As dominating as the Bucks had before before tonight, Coach Don Nelson said he was taking no chances. "We approached it like this was a must game," he said. "We didn't want to go back to Boston. We weren't about to gamble at all. That's why I played our key people so many minutes.
Johnson, working against Bird, scored 15 points in the first quarter and the Bucks overcame an early 12-4 deficit to lead, 23-19, at the end of the period.
The score was tied at 25 early in the second quarter when a 10-3 spurt by the Bucks proved to be the surge the Celtics never could overcome. Brian Winters started it with two long rainbow jump shots.
Boston rallied briefly to get back within two, but an 8-0 run, four of the points by Moncrief, gave the Bucks a 10-point lead and the Bucks fans started waving their brooms signifying a sweep was imminent.
One of Moncrief's baskets in that stretch came on an incredible lob pass from Winters. Moncrief took off 12 feet from the basket, caught the ball 10 feet away, and just kept soaring and gliding until he was three feet above the rim and then slammed the ball through.
The Bucks led by nine at the half and then opened the third period with a 13-5 rally, giving them a 59-42 lead with 7:20 left in the quarter. They never led by by fewer than 11 points the rest of the game.
Bird, who was playing with the lingering effects of the flu that caused his to miss the second game of the series, and with a dislocated little finger on his shooting hand, led the Celtics with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Cedric Maxwell had 15 points.
The Bucks played the same double-teaming defense inside they played all series long and dared the Celtics to hit the outside shots. They didn't. The Boston guards made only 10 of 38 shots for the game.
"We had a game plan and we stuck to it," said Nelson. "We'll try to do the same thing against Philadelphia and let the chips fall.