It's hard to determine which team, the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers, had the greater incentive as they practiced today for Game 2 of the NBA finals. The game will be played Thursday at 9 (WDVM-TV-9) at Boston Garden.
The defending champion Celtics lead the series following a 148-114 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series Monday, but with each passing day, the memories of that record-setting rout grow dimmer. "I've been in too many playoffs for too many years to base everything on one game," said Boston Coach K.C. Jones.
Jones is concerned because, if the Lakers win Thursday, they would have the advantage -- because of a change in the series format -- of playing Games 3, 4 and 5 in Los Angeles.
"The whole thing is still to their advantage," he said. "They still have the fast break. All they need to do is win one game here because of the format. I think we're still the underdogs."
It would be hard to convince Los Angeles Coach Pat Riley of that. For the last two days he has drilled his team severely and indicated displeasure with the first game.
"He's mad, but we all should be," said reserve center Mitch Kupchak. "We went out there and got beat by 34 points." Tuesday night, Kupchak was so wary of invoking the coach's ire that he passed up a free trip to the movies, saying, "I wouldn't want to know what would happen if he saw me out doing something fun."
Hours earlier, Lakers guard Byron Scott, five for 14 from the field in Game 1, engaged a number of youngsters in video games in the team's hotel. Although the two teammates' attitudes differed, assistant Dave Wohl said every member of the team was aware of the Lakers' state.
"We were severely stung out there on Monday," Wohl said. "If any one of our guys was able to say, 'Well, it was just one game,' or, 'It really wasn't that bad,' and truly mean it, then something's very, very wrong."
In their previous 17 playoff series, the Lakers hadn't lost an opening game. According to Riley, this loss was nearly as much the fault of Los Angeles miscues as the stellar game played by Boston.
"When we looked back at the films there were just so many things that we didn't do. There was a big lack of concentration in a number of areas," he said.
The Celtics, meanwhile, played flawlessly. "The good teams in the league usually come close to totally carrying out a game plan about 60 percent of the time," said Boston assistant Jimmy Rodgers. "But it's rare that it happens to that degree and against a quality team like Los Angeles."
Boston forward Cedric Maxwell thinks his team can continue its fine play. "It's obvious that we weren't playing our best against Cleveland or Detroit," he said. "We just started to hit our peak late last week against the 76ers. Now, we're playing pretty tough."
Kupchak doesn't deny that, but doubts Game 1 foreshadows the rest of the series. "You can't convince me that this series won't go six or seven games," he said. "I'm sure that we'll win tomorrow night, but does that mean that we'll go back to L.A. and sweep the next three to win the championship? I don't think anyone expects that, either."