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Celtics History Week: “Memorial Day Massacre”

Scott Wedman’s perfect game led red-hot Boston to a 34-point blowout of the Lakers in the opener of their Finals rematch

Los Angeles Lakers Photo by: Mike Powell/Getty Images

On the Memorial Day holiday of May 27, 1985, the NBA’s two most storied and successful franchises renewed the greatest championship rivalry in American pro sports history in game one of the 1985 Finals, a much-anticipated rematch of arguably the greatest championship series ever the previous June.

Boston won the 1984 Finals 4-3 as Larry Bird was named MVP as he gained revenge over his college rival and nemesis Earvin Johnson. Smarting from that gut-wrenching defeat, the Lakers pointed all year for a rematch with Boston, which again posted the league’s best record for the fifth time in Bird’s sixth season.

Thus the Celtics would host games one and two and have homecourt advantage for the Finals, although that edge would be negated by a new title series format enacted that year - more on that later.

The two bi-coastal rivals were well-matched, but not even the most ardent Celtic fan could have foreseen the perfect game Boston would throw at the Lakers that holiday. The blowout win seemed to cement the continuation of Boston’s 25-year mastery of the perennial runner-up Lakers.

But there were injury and over-confidence cracks in the old cement foundation that showed up in the rest of the surprising series.

The Celtics and Lakers, the NBA’s most fabled franchises, have combined to win 33 of the league’s 72 total championships since 1947. The two fan-favorite teams tower over the rest of the league in titles, tradition, great players, legendary coaches, memorable moments and pure lore. They transcend geography, with fans everywhere, even abroad.

By 1985, Boston had captured 15 titles and the Lakers had won eight, but only three since moving to LA. Their first five crowns came in the 1950s behind big man George Mikan when the franchise was located in Minneapolis.

Thirty-three years later, as of 2018 Boston has captured 17 titles and the Lakers are right behind with 16. Eight of their crowns have been won from 1985 through 2010, three of which came at the expense of Boston. And the 1985 series marked the turning point in their rivalry, as well as in the history of the Lakers.

Consider that the clubs closest to them in NBA crowns and tradition are far behind - Chicago (six) and San Antonio (five) - all of which have been won since 1991.

In the long and storied NBA Finals tapestry between Boston and the Lakers stretching from 1959-2010, the Celtics have carefully woven a 43-31 edge in games played, behind luminaries like Cousy and Russell, and on to Havlicek, Bird and Pierce.

Against the LA Lakers, Boston leads 39-31 after whipping Minneapolis in the 1959 Finals during Elgin Baylor’s rookie season, the year before Jerry West arrived and the team moved to southern California.

More importantly, the Celtics lead the championship series ledger decisively, 9-3.

Only one series (1959) was a sweep, one was a five-gamer (1966), five others were finished in six games and five have gone the distance, all in thrilling seventh games. Of those decisive seventh contests, Boston won once in overtime, twice by two, and lost by four.

The Celtics are 4-1 in seventh games vs. LA, and hold a 3-2 edge in six-game Finals. All-time in head to head competition, including playoffs, Boston holds a 202-160 edge over the rival Lakers.

Boston won their first eight championship series showdowns before LA finally broke through in 1985, despite being blown out in the opener.

Along with the game six clincher in 2008, perhaps the most memorable Celtic blowout of the hated Lakers was the Memorial Day Massacre of 1985.

This 34-point whipping based on incredible shooting and offensive execution was Celtic career highlight of a forgotten, overlooked All-Star relegated to bench duty in his 10th season because he played behind Larry Bird.

Seemingly destined to toil at a high level in obscurity from early in his career, Scott Wedman was born in Kansas but played in college for Big 8 also-ran Colorado, instead of his home state, tradition-rich Jayhawks.

The sharpshooting Wedman led the Buffaloes in scoring and rebounding as a junior and senior, but Colorado was just 29-49 in his college career.

Wedman was chosen sixth overall by the Kansas City Kings in a loaded 1974 draft that featured 12 future All-Stars, headlined by overall top pick and future Celtic Green Team mate Bill Walton.

Scott shot, defended and rebounded his way onto the all-rookie first team alongside future Laker and 1974-75 Rookie of the Year Keith (later Jamaal) Wilkes, Walton’s UCLA teammate who helped the Warriors win the 1975 title.

In just his second season, the unheralded Wedman was named a Western Conference All-Star reserve. In the 1976 mid-season classic at Philadelphia, Scott scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with six rebounds during 20 minutes.

A promising career seemed destined for this unusual and unheralded, throwback-type player. A smart, fine defender, he was arguably the best baseline shooter in NBA history. He possessed textbook form with a high release flicked effortlessly at the top of his reach due to his great strength.

Perhaps the league’s first weightlifting vegetarian, he was known as the “Incredible Hulk” while a Celtic for great upper body strength that allowed him to guide long rainbows from a release point well over his head, launches that usually nestled softly into the hoop.

Especially from the corners. Often the deep corner, before the three-pointer came into the NBA in Bird’s rookie season of 1979-80.

A one-car accident on a rain-slicked road March 4, 1979 sent his Porsche into some trees, and Wedman was thrown from the car. He sustained a concussion along with chest, leg and shoulder injuries, but only missed nine games. Doctors attributed his amazing recovery largely to being in such incredible shape.

The Kings were 40-26 before his injury and in first place in the Midwest Division, but then went 3-6 without him. Upon his return to the court just 20 days later, he scored a game-high 25 points at Portland. KC went 5-2 the rest of the way with Wedman backand edged past Denver to earn the division title by one game.

Unfortunately, Phoenix eliminated the Kings 4-1 in the western semifinals as Scott averaged 19.2 ppg.

Wedman remained underrated because he played for mostly so-so Kings teams in a small market, and was a fundamentally-skilled player, not the least bit flashy or concerned with attention-getting antics.

He was unselfish, and averaged just 14.9 field goal attempts per 36 minutes over his career despite being a superb shooter. Scott could have shot and scored much more had he been consumed by his stats. A 49 percent career shooter on two-point tries and 79.4 percent foul shooter, he took just 11.8 shots per game over 13 seasons.

Thus despite making two All-Star teams (1976 and 1980) and being selected all-defense (1980) when the honor was voted on by the league coaches, Wedman never received much national acclaim. He played mostly on small market teams in the NBA and on an unknown team in college.

No major endorsement deals came the way of the Kings marksman, as they would have had he starred in LA, Chicago or for the Knicks, who coveted him out of college but had no first round selection in 1974.

Knowledge of his consistently excellent play was mostly limited to basketball aficionados and Kings fans. Kansas City, which was a total of 14 games under .500 in his seven seasons there, was also rarely on national TV during his time in the heartland.

Scott switched from small forward to big guard in the 1981 playoffs to replace the injured Otis Birdsong. With Ernie Grunfeld also taking over for injured KC point guard Phil Ford, the Knigs were expected to be a quick out in the playoffs.

Instead, they shockingly made it all the way to the conference finals, one step shy of a Finals showdown with the Celtics.

Wedman stepped in seamlessly for Birdsong to score 20.5 ppg and lead the upstart 40-42 Kings to the Western Conference finals for the only time in their KC tenure.

Along the way, he led KC to a seven-game upset over top-seeded Phoenix and future Celtic teammate Dennis Johnson in the Western Conference semifinals.

On the precipice of their only NBA Finals during the franchise’s 14-year stay in Kansas City and a matchup with Boston - and a marquee small forward showdown with Larry Bird - KC lost to another 40-42 Cinderella in Houston, spoiling Scott’s chance at the big time.

He then signed as a free agent with Cleveland, which had become a disaster during the Ted Stepien regime as the clueless owner’s terrible moves turned the “Cadavaliers” into the laughingstock of the league.

Not coincidentally, the year after Wedman left town, the Kings plummeted to 30-52. Four years after the loss of their popular homegrown hoop hero, the Kings moved to Sacramento.

When Wedman was dealt to Boston during the 1982-83 season he was still in his prime, but he had to sit behind the greatest small forward in the NBA.

Wedman had the good fortune to be traded from the NBA Siberia of Cleveland to the French Riviera of Boston in 1983 at age 30. Yet he also suffered the misfortune of playing the same position as the best player on the planet in Mr. Bird.

It was sort of like having a great beach at your doorstep, but being susceptible to sunburn easily, forcing you to be content largely with a great view.

Thus except for when injuries to Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish or Cedric Maxwell struck, Scott stayed in top shape and prepared feverishly to play. Meanwhile his beautiful, high-arching shot sat parked on the pines as what remained of his best days dwindled away.

Even the biggest shot of his career has been overshadowed historically by the timely steal and layup Gerald Henderson converted to force overtime late in game two of the epic 1984 Finals vs. the Lakers.

Yet in the waning moments of that OT it was Wedman, not Bird, who calmly drained the game-winning shot. With Boston trailing 121-120 in the final seconds, they patiently swung the ball against the thinly-veiled LA zone defense to an open Scott, positioned on the left baseline for his most accurate shot.

Wedman coolly swished the winner from 18 feet over a flailing Earvin Johnson with 14 seconds left to even the series.

Had he missed his pet shot, three Lakers were perfectly positioned to rebound the ball, with no Celtic near the glass. Boston probably would have lost the game and the series, as they would have been down 0-2 heading to LA for three of the next four (potential) games.

But of course he did not miss, and the Celtics went on to capture a memorable championship banner, number 15 in their glorious history.

Yet after canning the clutch shot, it was mostly back to the bench and waiting again for Scott. It wasn’t the first time it happened to him with Boston in the playoffs.

With Bird sidelined by elbow and finger injuries for game three of the 1985 first round series vs. Cleveland, Wedman stepped in and torched his former team for 30 points on red-hot 13-for-20 shooting in 41 minutes. However, the Cavs won 105-98 to obscure the sharpshooting forward’s big night.

In 1983 when Bird was out with the flu, Wedman stepped in and scored 18 points on 9-11 shooting in game two of the eastern semis vs. Milwaukee. However Boston blew a big lead and lost 95-91 without Bird (scoring just nine points in the fourth period), en route to being swept 4-0, and thus Wedman’s accurate shooting was overshadowed.

In his first seven seasons with the Kings, Wedman averaged just under 35 minutes per game and was remarkably consistent. His ppg averages were 11.1, 15.5, 15.4, 17.7, 18.3, 19.0 and 19.0.

With Boston, he averaged just 14.9 minutes per game over five years. But his points per-36 minute numbers remained solid at 15, 12.9, 15.9, 16.3 and 9.2.

Because of Bird’s greatness and coach K.C. Jones’s puzzling reluctance to use Scott more at big guard much or in relief of iron-man Larry, Wedman was reduced to being an underused role player when he still could have been starting and excelling for many teams - or playing 25 minutes or so for loadd Boston clubs that went to the Finals in each his last four seasons with the Celtics.

But even the most enthusiastic of Celtic fans would not have expected what happened in game 1 of the 1985 Finals. Boston was riding its highest wave of the Bird vs. Johnson championship trilogy years.

The C’s had won three of the last four Finals games between the two foes in 1984, and the lone loss came at LA in a game six that Boston led by double figures in the second half.

In addition, the Celts beat the Lakers 104-102 in Boston during the 1985 regular season, and lost a close game at LA a month later with Parish barely able to play due to injury.

Yet even though their confidence level was at its peak vs. LA, no one was prepared for their historic game one outburst on May 27, 1985.

Boston shot a sizzling 61 percent from the field (62-for-102), including seven of nine from beyond the arc (78%) in an epic 148-114 bombing of the stunned Lakers.

A whopping 43 of Boston’s 62 baskets were assisted, and the Celts rebounded 13 of their mere 40 misses en route to a 48-35 edge on the backboards.

Ten of the 12 Celtics made half or more of their field goal tries in the blowout, and the two who did not went 6-14 (Dennis Johnson) and 1-3 (M.L. Carr). McHale canned 10 of 16 shots, Ainge hit on nine of 15, Bird sank eight out of 14, and Parish drained six of 11.

Even the shooting-challenged, defensive-oriented Quinn Buckner came off the bench and hit three out of five shots and doled out six assists in 16 minutes.

On the other side, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stumbled through 22 minutes, scoring 12 points and grabbing only three rebounds. He looked every bit of his 38 years and was out-run badly by Parish.

The major media, spurned by the standoffish Jabbar throughout his career, were quick to bury the proud Laker center, and unwittingly helped motivate him to bounce back strongly the rest of the series.

Jabbar came back to lead the Lakers to a stunning turnaround, and his play earned him series MVP honors as LA clinched its only title ever in the Boston Garden on another milestone holiday 13 days later on Father’s Day.

It was a belated gift for LA GM Jerry West after Mr. Laker’s four agonizing losses to Boston as a player, as well as the 1984 loss in seven the previous year. So traumatized by all the losses to Boston was West that he refused to wear green or attend the Game 6 clincher in Boston.

But on that Memorial Day nearly two weeks earlier, the Celtics flexed their muscles and completely crushed Los Angeles with an incredible display of pinpoint shooting and passing.

For that day, any thought of Laker revenge through supposedly superior athleticism was emphatically squashed under an avalanche of clinical execution by the more-skilled Celtics.

And it was Wedman’s perfect shooting that led the onslaught and buried the Lakers, handing them the second-worst Finals loss in their storied franchise history to that point.

In that game one, Wedman scored 26 points in just 23 minutes, and he made all 11 shots he took from the field, including four three-pointers. No player in the 68 years of championship series play has ever made that many shots in a game without missing. Plus, none of the shots were easy or close to the basket.

The Monday afternoon tip-off was preceded by a raucous pre-game introduction of both entire rosters, with the Garden faithful booing most of the Lakers and cheering their Celtics as if to relive and remind LA of the 1984 Finals - and the other seven times they had lost to Boston in the Finals, all without a win.

Only elder statesman Jabbar received a smattering of applause, but Johnson did not. In 1985, he was still not well-liked in Boston, as he later became as his friendship with Bird grew and wa spublicized. The strongest boos were saved for ex-Celtic Bob McAdoo, James Worthy, Johnson, Kurt Rambis and Mitch Kupchak.

Now a reserve, Cedric Maxwell received a loud ovation, as did Wedman, Quinn Buckner and M.L. Carr. Among the Boston starters, DJ, McHale and Larry Bird - introduced last as usual - got the loudest cheers, as his name was almost drowned out by the crowd.

It was the sixth Finals of the decade, with Boston and LA owning two titles and the 76ers one. The combatants shared respectful but not overly friendly handshakes around the center jump circle prior to tip-off.

Bird pulled his tight jersey down to stretch it out as he walked on court, slapping hands with all the Laker starters except Jabbar.

Ainge’s off-balance putback banker and a fast break dunk by Parish gave Boston a 6-2 lead. DJ sank an open left baseline shot for a 10-9 edge, and the Celts never trailed thereafter.

Bird’s pretty left-handed reverse layup in transition off a nice Ainge lead pass made it 14-9. Another Bird reverse layin off a DJ pass caught the Laker napping as Boston snagged nine of the game’s first 12 rebounds.

It was a 52-33 pounding on the glass in game seven that helped pave the way to the 15th Celtic title the previous June.

Ainge sank a pull-up 15-footer on the break, then nailed a long right corner deuce extended the lead to 20-10. Amazingly, Boston ran off to am early 10-1 edge in transition as LA looked sluggish.

McHale’s basket inside despite a Rambis/Magic double team made it 22-12. Kevin then drov ebaseline for another layup. Jabbar missed the rim completely on a bank shot, then lagged upcourt as Parish drained a short jumper for a 26-12 cushion.

The Garden crowd was deafening as Pat Riley called timeout at the 4:25 mark. LA responded by scoring six unanswered points.

Ainge’s 19-footer from a double-teamed Bird put the lead back to 10. Bird swished a turnaround left baseline 15-foot fadeaway over a helpless Worthy as the throng roared its approval.

Worthy answered with a short post-up jumper over Bird. Wedman stripped Larry Spriggs inside but threw the outlet away. After a Worthy layin, Ainge swished a right side triple.

Parish hit two foul shots and Ainge capped his 7-9 first period outburst by canning a running, one-footed 21-footer from the right side at the horn. His 15-point period propelled Boston to a commanding 38-24 lead.

McHale’s three-point play inside off a nice Buckner feed made the lead 17. Reserve Ray Williams sank a nice lefty runner in the lane off another good Buckner pass.

Parish sank a short turnaround and a flustered Worthy stepped out of bounds. McHale’s spinning banker advanced the lead to 47-25 as Johnson looked on from the bench, totally befuddled.

Parish again whipped Jabbar upcourt for a three-point stuffer as Kareem went to the bench for a 52-27 lead.

Ironically, the game’s biggest eventual standout in a court full of stars (Wedman) had yet to take a shot. Wedman rattled in his first try from 17 feet out on the left wing off a DJ assist. 54-29. A gorgeous driving double pump off glass by Bird kept the lead at 25.

Next, he calmly drained a left side trifecta over the 6-9 McAdoo to put the Celtics more than comfortably ahead, 59-32. Two for two. After a McAdoo hoop, DJ nailed a pair of pull-up shots. After hitting 10 of 11 shots, Boston led 63-34 - and even more impressively, the slower Celtics held a 17-5 ege in fast break points.

Boston swung the ball around against the thinly-veiled Laker zone to number eight. Spotting up on the left wing, Wedman drained another triple over a flailing Scott that gave the hosts a 66-36 bulge.

After a nice reverse layup by Kupchak, on the very next possession the game’s most accurate baseline marksman drained yet another trey from the right corner, this one over a late-closeout from Johnson.

DJ drained his third straght jumper as the Celtics stayed unconscionably red-hot 14 of 16 from the field in the period.

Two McHale foul shots extended the margin to 73-42 with 4:05 still left in the third stanza. “They have played a near perfect game,” said CBS play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton.

Moments later McHale soared high to block a baseline turnaround shot by Worthy. Bird canned a pair at the charity stripe as five Celtics amazingly reached double figures in the first 22 minutes of play.

Bird slid backdoor and took a rifled pass from DJ for a reverse layup. The basket set a Celtic playoff record for points in a half (77), breaking the club mark set in the 1960 Finals vs. the then St. Louis Hawks, led by all-time great Bob Pettit.

Fittingly, Ainge swished a 21-foot left baseline shot just before the buzzer to give him 17 points and make it 79-49 at the half, the largest intermission lead in NBA Finals history.

Despite cooling off late in the half, Boston shot 62 percent from the field compared to 42 percent by LA. More surprisingly, the Celtics outscored the Lakers 21-8 in transition.

”Boston really jammed the outlet passer and got back well on defense,” Heinsohn noted of how the Celtics contai around the neckned the vaunted LA fast break.

Jabbar missed his fourth hook shot, his patented shot, and DJ canned a fast break pull-up to start the second half.

Bird swished a right wing trifecta over Worthy to make it 84-53. Moments later Worthy knocked Bird down going for a steal along the sideline, but James helped him up and patted Larry on the backside.

Tempers flared when a frsutarted Scott cheap-shotted Ainge from behind with a shot in the back. Ainge responded angrily, showing off his baseball throwing arm by firing a bullet pass off the Laker guard. Earvin Johnson grabbed Danny aggressively, Scott shoved Danny and Ainge jawed at the Laker guards before Bird intervened.

Ainge was called for a technical foul but poetic justice prevailed when Johnson missed the foul shot. Bird then brought the crowd to its feet with a blind over the head feed as he curled into the lane to an open McHale for a dunk.

McHale then blocked a flying Worthy finger roll try. Great Bird to Parish to Ainge passing led to a Danny layup, and Johnson shoved McHale in the back under the boards, then pushed Kevin again when he turned to protest.

Danny took exception to the shoves with a few more words to the Laker guard. Clearly LA was upset at being blown out and was responding physically.

Moments later, DJ sliced though the defense for a three-point play to restore the lead to 30 at 93-63. Even though Boston had a huge lead, K.C. Jones kept his starters in for almost the entire period.

In limited first half playing time, Wedman still managed to total 11 points, highlighted by three straight triples.

Yet Scott did not get back in the game until 2:59 remained in the third quarter, with Boston ahead 99-73.

Ange threaded the needle on a 40-foot pass to McHale, who was fouled by Michael Cooper as he scored an off-balance three-point play inside over Jabbar.

When he re-entered the game, Wedman picked up right where he left off. He only took one shot in the quarter and drained it as he trailed on the fast break. Feeling it, he called for the ball, took an Ainge pass in stride and swished an 18-footer from the circle for a 104-73 cushion.

Five for five.

When the period mercifully ended for LA, the Celtics led 108-79.

In the fourth stanza, Wedman continued his incredible accuracy, the equivalent of getting a pinch-hit every time at bat, with a couple of home runs thrown in. First, he curled off a double screen, took a pass from Buckner and nailed a right side 15-footer. Six for six.

On the next play he popped out and drained an open 18-footer from just left of the circle. Seven for seven.

In the zone completely, a hungry but patient Wedman continued to prove he was still more than a bench player, even on a championship team. He buried a jumper from just beyond the left elbow to make it eight in a row.

Shortly after that, he splashed his patented left baseline jumper from 16 feet out to make it 21 points on perfect nine for nine field goal accuracy.

On the next Celtic possession, Wedman continued his historic roll. He didn’t hesitate after taking a pass in the right corner, let fly for three and swished it to give him 24 points.

Ten for ten.

Wedman’s last shot might have been his toughest. He leaped high to catch a pass along the right baseline, then turned to his left shoulder in midair before releasing a 12-footer that went straight in for a 37-point lead.

Eleven in a row. Four of four from downtown. Twenty-six points in just 23 minutes.

The Lakers were prepared for such a barrage from Bird or perhaps McHale or Parish, but not Wedman, and he made them pay.

”Scott Wedman, who the blank is he?” Laker coach Pat Riley railed later to motivate his team, although he should have been well aware of Wedman’s ability. Scott was a two-time All-Star for the Kings in 1976 and 1980, and played agianst the tenacious RIley at the end of Pat’s NBA career.

Ironically, Bird would also make 11 shots in a row midway through another game one vs. LA two years later in the 1987 Finals, but Boston lost that one.

Still on fire, Wedman subbed out with 3:50 left to play and received a high five from DJ, as well as a stirring ovation from the fans who showed their appreciation for his record-setting accuracy.

It was a rare break in the clouds for him to shine behind the incomparable Bird for the former All-Star.

Of all people, Greg Kite drilled a left-handed hook in the lane with 1:19 left to give Boston a 144-108 lead and break the Finals record for points in game of 142, set by the Celtics in 1965 vs. LA.

Carr splashed a right wing triple with 27 seconds left for the final Boston basket, adding insult to injury by the Celtic’s biggest cheerleader and agitator.

During a post-game interview with CBS sideline reporter Pat O’Brien, Wedman was informed that he had set a championship series record for most shots made in a game without a miss. “That’s great,” he said.

”You were hot out there,” said O’Brien, noting the obvious. “Little bit, I felt good out there,” Wedman understated in his midwestern drawl, similar to but not as pronounced as Bird’s heavy southern Indiana accent.

”I felt confident...but I remember two free throws that I missed,” Wedman humbly noted. “We just got to try and really get prepared for game two and not relax.”

It seemed the Celts had LA’s number, and the lopsided victory underlined that. Going back to the memorable 1984 Finals, its was the fourth championship series victory in five games vs. the rival Lakers.

Yet Boston became overconfident and paid for it later, although elbow and finger injuries to Bird’s shooting arm, and a knee injury to the valuable Maxwell also contributed greatly to the 4-2 series defeat.

And after his 11-11 game one outburst, it was mostly back to the bench for Scott. Wedman took just 25 shots over the final five games of the series in a mere 82 minutes and made 11, as many as he did in game one. Not coincidentally, Boston lost four of those five and the title.

Playing aggressively, angry LA was able to reverse the momentum of the blowout loss with an upset in game two at the Garden to even the series. Back In LA, they blew out Boston in game three for the second year in a row to a take a 2-1 lead.

Then in a similar replay of game four in 1984 when the Celtics rallied for an epic overtime win, DJ hit a 20-footer at the buzzer to even the series with a thrilling 107-105 victory.

However, the NBA had changed the Finals format to 2-3-2 in 1985, a key to the momentum and outcome of the series. Unlike in 1984, Boston rode back home on the momentum of that OT win and triumphed easily in the infamous sauna game to take a 3-2 lead, their first of the series. That pivotal win turned the series in Boston’s favor, and they went on to win in seven.

In 1985, the Lakers were able to stay home in the friendly confines of the Forum for game five after the devastating fourth game defeat. Instead of reeling from a loss at the buzzer and heading cross-country to a hot and unfriendly Boston Garden, they regrouped and held off a Celtic rally for a 120-111 win and a 3-2 lead.

The Finals format change, which stayed the same for 31 years until going back to 2-2-1-1-1 in 2016, played a major role in the Laker victory. Confident and loose with a 3-2 lead, LA upset Boston in game six on the parquet floor for their first-ever Finals win over the Celtics in nine championship series tries.

In the decisive sixth game, when DJ and Ainge combined to miss 25 of their 31 shots and Parish hit on just five of 14, Wedman still puzzlingly only played 15 minutes.

He canned two of three shots, including one of two from three-point land and a pair of free throws, to score seven points. Boston lost the game 111-100 and the championship belt for the first time to the Lakers.

Celtic patriarch Red Auerbach presciently noted the difference the new 2-3-2 Finals format could make at halftime of the game one blowout in a CBS interview with Brent Musburger.

Red, obviously not in favor of the new 2-3-2 Finals format, noted that three consecutive road games “can change the series a lot. If a (visiting) team happens to come in and win one of the first two, they got a great psychological edge.”

Heinsohn also smartly observed that the new format could prevent the team with the better record from enjoying the fruits of the home court advantage they earned by putting together the best record over the long regular season.

”Psychologically, (if the team that has the middle at three at home) can win one of the first two, you got a big edge,” Red added, noting that there is added incentive to not want to make that 3,000-mile trip back across country for potential games six and seven.

As usual, he was so right.

To contact the author directly, email Cort Reynolds at

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