How lopsided, how impressive, how perfect was the Boston Celtics' 148-114 victory Monday over the Los Angeles Lakers in the first game of the NBA finals?
So much so that according to Celtics forward Cedric Maxwell, "My mom could have come in off the bench and gotten right into the flow of things."
Well, maybe things weren't that ideal for the defending champions; after all, they did miss 40 of their 102 field goal attempts. But Maxwell did hit upon the key factor in the surprising rout -- Boston's ability to play at the same level no matter who was in the lineup.
"That's what impressed me the most," said Celtics guard Dennis Johnson. "Everyone picked up on what everyone else was doing. When Danny (Ainge) was hitting early, I started looking for him, you try to milk something until it runs out. But then Kevin (McHale) was hot, too, then Scott Wedman (11 of 11 from the field) came in, and when Danny and I went out, Quinn Buckner and Ray Williams started doing the same things, too."
It was Los Angeles that had been averaging 131 points and 34.5 assists per game in the playoffs with 56 percent shooting. On Monday, however, Boston set a record with its 61 percent mark.
Los Angeles' assistant coach, Dave Wohl, who scouted the final four games of the Celtics' semifinal series against Philadelphia and viewed videotapes of Boston's other playoff games, said today that the team he saw on Monday was a markedly different squad.
"I've seen them play 15 to 20 times this season and they never shot like that," he said. "In every aspect of the game, that was the best performance I've seen in years. As good as we've been, we've never had a game like that against a quality opponent.
"If you were a Celtic and you had a dream about how you wanted the game to go, it couldn't have been any better than that. It was like all the Xs and Os were taken from the paper and placed in the players' minds and then they went out on the floor and did them."
Boston assistant Jimmy Rodgers said that much of his team's success was based on familiarity.
"Even though we only played them twice in the regular season, it seems like only yesterday that we were playing them in a seven-game series for the championship," Rodgers said. "There was a lot of carry-over value because we were educated last year on what we have to do against them."
Boston's main lesson was that in order to beat the Lakers, it's imperative to stop their fast break. Boston eliminated the Lakers' fast break by making a high percentage of its shots.
Boston exploited the Lakers' defense. The Lakers were no different in their approach than other teams in the league: double-team players like McHale and Robert Parish down low and make them get the ball out to Johnson and Ainge.
The Lakers are better than many teams, however, at rotating that defense to bother the player who winds up with the ball on the outside. To counteract that pressure, Boston simply made an extra pass or two.
"We weren't recognizing situations like we've done in the past and that made things that much easier for them," Wohl said. "We had openings and didn't go through them. They didn't miss any of theirs."