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1983 NBA Season – Moses leads ’em to the Promised Land

September 28, 2013

moses and the doctor

Julius Erving had a new teammate in 1983 *photo courtesy of CNN Sports Illustrated

The biggest off-season story happened on September 2 when Moses Malone was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Rockets received Caldwell Jones and a draft pick in return and got 14 wins in 1983 (but did get to draft Ralph Sampson with the #1 pick and Rodney McCray with the pick they got from Philly).

A week earlier, the 76ers had traded Darryl Dawkins to the New Jersey Nets for a draft pick.  They signed Marc Iavaronito be the starting power forward with the 4 all-stars of Malone, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney.  Bobby Jones and Clint Richardson were cogs off the bench and Clemon Johnson was acquired at mid-season to back up Malone.  All of this translated to a 65-17 regular season record for Philadelphia.  This included a memorable win over the Lakers.

January 5, 1983 – Los Angeles Lakers 120 @Philadelphia 76ers 122 (OT)

The Lakers only major change in the off-season was drafting James Worthy with the #1 pick.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper, Bob McAdoo and Kurt Rambis were back in their similar roles.  But for this game, they didn’t have Kareem because of a severe migrane.  Erving and Toney started this game with jumpers but then Magic found McAdoo, who was in Kareem’s spot in the starting lineup, for a layup.  Magic then scored on a drive and fed Wilkes for a three-point play.  Then Cheeks lobbed to Malone for a slam and then fed Erving for a finger roll on the break.  Then Mo scored on a drive down the middle.  Then Malone committed his 2nd foul, which got Laker announcer Chick Hearn to tort that the last time Malone fouled out, the Red Sea parted.

The Lakers re-took the lead when Magic got a slam over Iavaroni on a transition drive.  The Lakers took a seven point lead helped by five consecutive points from Rambis and a Malone technical.  But Philly scored six straight points before Worthy came off the bench and got two layups off feeds from Magic and McAdoo.  Eventually an Erving three-point play cut the Lakers lead to 33-31 after the first.

The 76ers bench came into the game and provided a spark in the 2nd quarter.  Jones found a cutting Richardson for a layup and a foul to give Philly the lead.  Then, later, back-to-back field goals by bigs Russ Schoene and Earl Curetan gave the 76ers a 42-36 lead.  The 76ers eventually took a nine-point lead on another Erving three-point play.  But then the Lakers got six straight points highlighted by Magic, in the post, faking toward the lane and spinning baseline for a layup.  But Philly kept its lead helped by a Magic technical.  But Magic had a good first half and got his 17th point on a cutting layup from McAdoo to cut the game to 60-56.  On the very next possession though Cheeks drove in for an easy layup and Magic was on the ground dazed.  Magic was guarding Cheeks and ran hard into an Erving blind screen and got knocked cold for a few minutes.  He eventually got up and shook off the cobwebs to play in the 2nd half.  Philly took a 67-58 lead at halftime.

The 76ers increased their lead early in the 2nd half by getting out on the break.  An Erving feed to Iavaroni on a 4-on-1 break gave Philly their biggest lead at 73-62.  Then Moses got a steal and ran the floor after giving the ball up to Toney.  Andrew found him for a slam and Philly led by 13.  They eventually took an 84-68 lead after Cheeks hit on a drive down the middle and a foul.  But to the Lakers rescue, Wilkes got hot.  He scored 8 of the next 12 points in the game, punctuated by his pull-up wing jumper on a Magic assist to cut the lead to 86-78.  Magic then found Worthy and Wilkes for layups and scored on an offensive rebound.  Magic finished with a triple-double with 23 points, 20 assists and 12 rebounds.  Philly led 87-86 after three.

Magic found Worthy for a baseline jumper to give the Lakers the lead.  But a Schoene offensive rebound and a Richardson jumper from the top of the key.  Schoene, a rookie, was eventually traded for the aforementioned Clemon Johnson.  The game went back-and-forth as Toney’s production matched that of Worthy and Wilkes.  Then with the game tied at 97, Erving found a cutting Bobby Jones for a layup and a foul.  Then Jones had a great breakaway left-handed finish versus Worthy and it was 102-97 Philly.  Two field goals by Toney helped the 76ers increase their lead to 108-101.  Then Wilkes hit a jumper from the post for his 31st point.  He got one more on a free throw before Magic found McAdoo for a pull-up from the wing.  Then a Malone goaltending tied the game at 108 with 1:30 left.  Malone followed with 2 free throws before Magic fed Nixon for a layup with 1:05 left.  Moses then found Cheeks open under the basket.  But Mo shuffled his feet after faking a defender and was called for traveling.  Magic followed by finding Wilkes for a cutting layup.  Philly didn’t call timeout and Toney took it one-on-one.  He got to the baseline, faked, leaned in and hit a tough shot to tie the game at 112.  After a Lakers timeout, they ran the clock down but Wilkes missed from the corner.  Magic got the offensive rebound but missed an easy shot at the buzzer.

The overtime started with Malone committing his 4th foul on a charge.  He didn’t foul out though so his streak, in Chick Hearn’s eyes, was still alive.  Magic then found Wilkes for a cutting layup.  Toney responded with a driving banker from the left side.  Then with 3:00 left, Toney hit a pull-up from the foul line and Philly led 116-114.  Nixon then fouled out on a charge but the Lakers did tie it after Magic’s 20th assist on a lead to Worthy.  Cheeks regained the lead for Philly on a driving left-handed layup.  Then came one of the most memorable plays in NBA history.  Erving got a steal and was heading for a breakaway chased by Cooper.  As Coooper caught up to him, Dr. J brought the ball back, cupped it in his hands, went around the world and slammed over Cooper, who had jumped then ducked.

The Lakers tied the game at 120 with 36 seconds left.  Philly was able to run the clock down (they got a new shot clock with 21 seconds left when the ball was deflected out of bounds).  Toney took it one-on-one again and hit a driving banker from the right side about 5 feet away with five seconds left to give the 76ers a 122-120 lead.  The Lakers last chance was a miss from the corner by Wilkes, who was the high scorer in the game with 36.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (36) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (5) – Power Forward

Bob McAdoo (13) – Center

Magic Johnson (23) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (20) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

James Worthy (18)

Michael Cooper (5)

Eddie Jordan (0)

Mark Landsberger (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (27) – Small Forward

Marc Iavaroni (2) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (21) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (13) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (28) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Bobby Jones (11)

Clint Richardson (5)

Franklin Edwards (3)

Russ Schoene (8)

Earl Curetan (4)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

February 13, 1983 – NBA All-Star Game @ Los Angeles: East 132, West 123

In a 23 team league in 1983, only 12 teams were represented in this All-Star Game.  In the pre-game, Marvin Gaye sung a famous national anthem.

This anthem seemed to rile up the East as 4 of the 5 starters got field goals to give them a 10-2 lead.  Isiah Thomas and Larry Bird were the ones that got off to the strongest start.  Isiah had 10 of the East’s first 24 points.  Bird had 8 of the first 26.  While the East kept its lead, the West stayed within striking distance sparked by Kareem breaking up two 2-on-1 breaks, one of which led to a layup.  Magic twice went coast-to-coast after either getting a defensive rebound and right after an East score.  Then the East got sparks off the bench from Robert Parish and Sidney Moncrief to take a 37-28 lead.  Then Andrew Toney got a steal and assist and then hit from the top of the key at the buzzer to give the East a 42-31 lead after one quarter.

Toney continued to spark the East in the 2nd as he got back-to-back assists to Buck Williams.  Then after George Gervin penetrated and fed new San Antonio teammate Artis Gilmore for a slam, Toney found Marques Johnson for a baseline jumper.  Buck Williams’ free throw gave the East a 49-33 lead before the West brought some starters back in and made a run.  They also got a spark from some Seattle Supersonics as Jack Sikma and Gus Williams hit field goals to cut the lead to 10.  Then Magic, Jim Paxson and Kiki Vandeweghe helped cut the East’s lead to six before Bird and Isiah hit field goals to bring it back to 10.  The West then went on their biggest run sparked by Kareem.

Abdul-Jabbar hit a layup after a baseline spin and then he found a streaking David Thompson for a layup.  Jabbar then found a cutting Thompson for a slam and then David Skywalker (although he wasn’t exactly skywalking anymore because of knee injuries.. mentioned in my first post) stole the ball and fed Alex English for a layup.  English then completed the 10-0 run by following up Magic’s miss to tie the game at 60.

But then Julius Erving came to life.  He hit a driving layup down the middle and then a slam after an Isiah steal.  The Doctor’s last act of the half was throwing an alley-oop to his 76er teammate Moses Malone.  The East led 69-64 at the half.

Dr. J’s act continued in the third though.  He chased down Gus Williams on the break for a Lebron-like block and then got a slam a possession later on a Moncrief steal.  Then Moncrief got another steal and Bird fed Isiah for a layup.  Then after Erving got a rebound, his outlet pass was over Isiah but he caught up to it on the other side of the court just before going out of bounds.  Isiah then saved the ball to Moncrief who went up, got spun in the air so his back was facing the basket and hit the shot over his head as he was fouled.  The three-point play gave the East a 78-66 lead.  Then after an Erving finger roll on the break he went into his best act of the night.

The East was leading 80-68 and Bird got a defensive rebound.  He outletted to the Doctor at half court.  Erving saw that he had a 2-on-1 with only the 7’2″ Gilmore back.  Julius sized up the situation and took it himself.  With the right hand slammed over Artis while the foul was called.  The East took a 17-point lead after Moses rebounded and outletted to Isiah for a breakaway.  The scoring went back-and-forth until a Bird banker on a 3-on-1 followed by a Malone free throw gave the East their biggest lead at 97-78.  The West made a little bit of a run but another Toney jumper from the top of the key gave the East a 103-90 lead heading into the fourth.

The West’s run continued as Kareem made a sky hook for his 7th field goal in 7 attempts (much contrary to his 1-for-10 in the 1982 All-Star Game).  Then Kareem got a defensive board and outletted to Magic who found English for a driving layup and a foul.  He missed the free throw but Paxson got a steal and Magic finished on a runner while he was fouled.  He hit the free throw and it was 103-97.  Maurice Cheeks then drove right by Magic for a layup that kicked off a 7-0 East run.

The West made a charge when back-to-back Magic Johnson coast-to-coast drives forced an East timeout with the score 116-110.  But then Isiah penetrated and found Moncrief for a layup after Bird saved a ball from going out of bounds.  Erving then drove to the lane, went in the air, and switched to the left hand to finish against Kareem.  Then Moncrief scored on a putback and finished a 2-on-0 break.  It didn’t seem like it was going the West’s way when Kareem, in trying to corral a defensive rebound, hit the ball off of Moncrief’s head into his own goal.  The East maintained a 128-115 lead after Moses got a block and outletted to Erving for a slam.

The West made one final charge with a minute to go.  Gervin hit a three and then Kareem hit a sky hook and got fouled.  It was 128-121 with 49 seconds left.  But the issue was settled when Bird found Erving for a final slam.  Erving ended up getting the MVP (his 2nd but his 1st when his team had won the game) but would more savor getting a bigger award at the Forum later that season.

East starters (teams) and point totals

Larry Bird (Boston Celtics) 14 – Small Forward

Julius Erving (Philadelphia 76ers) 25 – Power Forward

Moses Malone (Philadelphia 76ers) 10 – Center

Maurice Cheeks (Philadelphia 76ers) 6 – Point Guard

Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons) 19 – Shooting Guard

East bench (teams) and point totals

Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks) 20

Marques Johnson (Milwaukee Bucks) 7

Buck Williams (New Jersey Nets) 8

Robert Parish (Boston Celtics) 13

Andrew Toney (Philadelphia 76ers) 8

Reggie Theus (Chicago Bulls) 0

Bill Laimbeer (Detroit Pistons) 2

East Coach: Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia 76ers)

West starters (teams) and point totals

Alex English (Denver Nuggets) 14 – Small Forward

Maurice Lucas (Phoenix Suns) 6 – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Los Angeles Lakers) 20 – Center

Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers) 17 – Point Guard

David Thompson (Seattle Sonics) 10 – Shooting Guard

West bench (teams) and point totals

Jim Paxson (Portland Blazers) 11

Jack Sikma (Seattle Sonics) 8

Artis Gilmore (San Antonio Spurs) 5

Jamaal Wilkes (Los Angeles Lakers) 10

Gus Williams (Seattle Sonics) 6

George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs) 9

Kiki Vandeweghe (Denver Nuggets) 7

West Coach: Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers)

April 24, 1983 – East Quarterfinals, Game 3: Atlanta Hawks 79 @Boston Celtics 98

Boston had finally finished behind Philadelphia in the division and conference standings.  So they finally got to play a mini-series against what turned out to be a tough team.  Boston’s only differences from 1982 were the acquisitions of Quinn Buckner and Scott Wedman.  There was also the increased playing time for Danny Ainge and the decreased playing time for Tiny Archibald, who was in his final season with the team.

The Atlanta Hawks were in transition.  There was some pieces from the late-70’s team that was known for their drug-use.  There was also a big piece of their talented late-80’s team, that would be rookie Dominique Wilkins.  Wilkins was joined in the frontcourt by Dan Roundfield, Tree Rollins, and Tom McMillen.  Former Blazer Johnny Davis manned the point guard spot with Eddie Johnson out with an injury.

Ainge, now starting in the Celtics backcourt with Gerald Henderson, opened the scoring with a three.  Henderson scored two consecutive baskets and a Parish jumper put Boston up quickly 9-2.  Henderson and Ainge had struggled shooting.  In fact, the Hawks had felt they had outplayed the Celtics going into the do-or-die Game 3.  They had a six point lead late in Game 1 before Boston made a run, led by Buckner, to win the game.

Boston took a 17-6 lead when Cedric Maxwell scored a running banker on the break and was fouled.  Then after a Rollins hook, Bird hit his first two field goals on jumpers.  The Hawks got back within 23-19 when Johnny Davis scored nine consecutive Hawk points.  The closest Atlanta got though was 26-23 before Tiny outletted to Bird for a breakaway layup.  A Parish turnaround from the post put Boston up 32-23 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter turned out to be the Kevin McHale show.  Kevin scored 12 points a variety of ways.  He hit a turnaround from the box over two people and then a tough reverse layup on a Tiny feed.  McHale also was found by teammates in the lane for face-up jumpers.  A Tiny lead to Kevin on the break put Boston up 53-40.  Later, Bird saved a Boston possession by diving over half-court to save the ball to Tiny.  Bird got a rousing ovation from the crowd for that play and the Celtics ended up scoring on that possession.  Boston was up 59-45 at the half.

Henderson started the third quarter with a driving layup down the lane.  Then Henderson got a steal and dish to Bird for a breakaway.  Ball movement then found Bird in the corner for a three.  Atlanta called timeout down 66-45 but as it turned out the issue was pretty much settled.

So that leads us to the exciting action that had nothing to do with basketball.  Earlier in the 3rd, the 7-foot Tree Rollins and Danny Ainge had gotten in each others face.  Then Mike Glenn delivered a pass to Rollins for a slam to cut Boston’s lead to 68-52.  As Rollins was celebrating, he saw Ainge and threw an elbow that connected.  They stared at each other for a few seconds before Ainge tackled Tree and they were joined on the ground by several players.  Apparently, while in the scrum Tree bit Ainge in the finger, which caused 5 stitches.  When all hell was settled, Ainge and Mike Glenn were ejected but Rollins stayed in the game (I guess the refs didn’t see his initial elbow.. and there was obviously no replay back then).

After that there wasn’t really much action.  Rollins was the scoring threat for the Hawks on this day with Wilkins and Roundfield struggling.  The Celtics led 78-62 after three.  They took as much as a 21-point lead and the closest Atlanta got was 14.  The Celtics as it turned out however were in a crusade against their coach Bill Fitch.  This probably was the only playoff game that they truly played hard that year.  They were swept pretty easily by Milwaukee in the next round.  Fitch was then fired and replaced by assistant K.C. Jones.

Atlanta starters (points scored)

Dominique Wilkins (8) – Small Forward

Dan Roundfield (10) – Power Forward

Tree Rollins (18) – Center

Johnny Davis (15) – Point Guard

Rudy Macklin (4) – Shooting Guard

Atlanta bench (points scored)

Tom McMillen (2)

Wes Matthews (10)

Mike Glenn (4)

Rickey Brown (0)

Keith Edmondson (2)

George Johnson (0)

Randy Smith (6)

Atlanta Coach: Kevin Loughery

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (26) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (19) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (8) – Center

Gerald Henderson (12) – Point Guard

Danny Ainge (3) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (16)

Nate Archibald (6)

Scott Wedman (2)

Quinn Buckner (6)

M.L. Carr (0)

Rick Robey (0)

Charles Bradley (0)

Boston Coach: Bill Fitch


The combatants of the fight, Tree Rollins on the left and Danny Ainge on the right with Ainge’s hand circled *photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

April 29, 1983 – West Semifinals, Game 3: Los Angeles Lakers 115 @Portland Blazers 109 (OT)

The Lakers had once again clinched the top seed in the West and now were taking on the young and upcoming Portland Trailblazers.  The Blazers had swept Seattle in the mini-series.  Portland was led by forwards Calvin Natt and Mychal Thompson and All-star guard Jim Paxson.  Other key contributors for the Blazers was point guard Darnell Valentine and 6th man Kenny Carr.

The Lakers had won the first two games in Los Angeles but were without forwards Bob McAdoo and James Worthy.  McAdoo would return for the Western Conference Finals but Worthy was out for the year with a broken leg.

The game went back and forth for the first quarter as each team’s starters played aggressively.  Paxson had 10 first quarter points on jumpers, a runner and even a slam.  Natt and Thompson each had 6.  For the Lakers, Jamaal Wilkes led them with 10 points as Magic found him for two pull-up jumpers in transition and then Norm Nixon found Michael Cooper who touch passed one to Wilkes for a layup.  Magic’s scoop with 8 seconds left put L.A. up 32-28 after the first quarter.

After Cooper fed Kareem for a hook, young Lafayette ‘Fat’ Lever off the bench hit two field goals to bring Portland back to within two (Lever had that nickname not because he was fat but because his first name was fat, you see).  Ball movement found Michael Cooper for a corner jumper and Wilkes hit a wing jumper for a five-point lead.  The Lakers extended in to 54-47 at the half as once again Wilkes and Paxson were the leading scorers with 14 points each.

Early in the 2nd half, Kareem’s hook after an offensive rebound put the Lakers up 58-51.  Portland coach Jack Ramsay thought Kareem had gotten away with a foul and got called for a technical.  The abnormally subdued Portland crowd also thought Kareem was getting away with fouls and finally started to make some noise after the Ramsay technical (it also helped that Magic missed the free throw).  With this emotion, the Blazers got going.

They cut it to 58-55 on a Valentine jumper but the Lakers went back up by seven when Magic got a steal and lead to Kurt Rambis for a slam.  However, then Magic got his 4th foul and a technical.  Paxson missed the free throw but Portland cut it back to 64-61 on a Valentine pull-up from a step inside the elbow.  This was Darnell’s 8th point of the quarter.  Nixon’s fadeaway jumper at the end of the shot clock and a Nixon feed to Cooper on the break put L.A. back up 69-63.  But then Natt hit a jumper from the foul line and Kenny Carr did work on Kareem on back-to-back possessions.  First he got an offensive rebound against him and scored and then Valentine found him for a slam over the standing Abdul-Jabbar.

Kareem did come back with a slam after a spin move in the post to put the Lakers up 72-69.  But then Paxson got a layup on a baseline drive and then Valentine found him for a wing jumper and a one-point Portland lead.  The quarter scoring finished with 6 seconds left when Natt put back a miss.  The Blazers led 75-72 going into the 4th.

The run continued into the final quarter.  Natt hit a turn-around jumper in the lane and Carr hit a pull-up from the foul line.  Portland took an 84-76 lead when Lever drove down the lane, finished, and was fouled for a three-point play.  After a Rambis field goal, Carr got a slam and a foul on a baseline drive and Portland led by nine.  The Lakers at this point had not lost a playoff game to a Western Conference opponent since Houston eliminated them in 1981.

But Los Angeles was determined it wouldn’t be on this night, Magic cut the lead to 89-83 with a fast break runner and a foul.  Then Wilkes rebounded a Nixon miss and put it back in.  A Kareem skyhook in the lane cut it to 89-88 and the game was on.  After a Natt driving layup, Wilkes hit another jumper from the wing.  Nixon found Cooper on the break for a driving layup and then Kareem hit another skyhook for a 94-91 Laker lead.  Portland came back with field goals by Natt and Paxson to regain the lead.  But with 1:03 left, Nixon hit a pull-up from the baseline and L.A. led 96-95.

Things looked doomed for Portland when Natt missed two free throws with 39 seconds left.  But then Mychal Thompson blocked a Magic layup and Portland got a timeout with 26 seconds to go down one.  After working the ball around, Valentine drove from the left of the lane.  He hit a right-hand driving banker to put Portland up 97-96 with 10 seconds left.  After L.A. called a timeout, Wilkes broke open at the wing and got the pass.  He quickly released and nailed a jumper for a one-point Laker lead with 7 seconds left.  After a Portland timeout, Vallentine drove and was fouled with 3 seconds left.  Darnell made the first but missed the second.  The Lakers grabbed the rebound and didn’t even bother calling time.  Game 3 was going to overtime.

The Lakers started fast as Magic, off the tip, found Wilkes for a layup.  Valentine came back with a three-point play but Kareem’s skyhook and a foul put the Lakers up 105-101 and fouled out Portland center Wayne Cooper.  The Blazers had a chance to tie it at the foul line but only made one of their next four.  They finished 16-for-30 for the game.  Kareem kicked out to Nixon for a jumper and a 107-102 lead.  Kareem then committed his 5th foul but the Blazers could only get as close as three for the rest of the game.  This was of course helped by Kareem who blocked a Valentine layup and then hit a skyhook with 43 seconds left to give him 30 points and pretty much seal things.

Portland blew out the Lakers in Game 4 but L.A. finished them off at the Forum in Game 5 and now were on to face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Finals.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (28) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (14) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (30) – Center

Magic Johnson (15) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (12) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Michael Cooper (12)

Mark Landsberger (4)

Steve Mix (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

Portland starters (points scored)

Calvin Natt (22) – Small Forward

Mychal Thompson (10) – Power Forward

Wayne Cooper (10) – Center

Darnell Valentine (16) – Point Guard

Jim Paxson (22) – Shooting Guard

Portland bench (points scored)

Kenny Carr (20)

Fat Lever (7)

Linton Townes (0)

Audie Norris (2)

Don Buse (0)

Portland Coach: Jack Ramsay

natt vs wilkes

Calvin Natt going against Jamaal Wilkes *photo courtesy of Trailblazer blogger

May 1, 1983 – East Semifinals, Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers 105 @New York Knicks 102

The 76ers had won 65 games but had some injury concerns.  Andrew Toney had a pulled quad, backup center Clemon Johnson pulled his hamstring in this game and Maurice Cheeks went out late in this game.  With all of this being said, Philadelphia had won the first 3 games of this series as new heroes emerged.  Second year guard Franklin Edwards hit the game-winner in the 76ers 107-105 Game 3 win at MSG.

With all the injuries too, it was probably important that the 76ers finish off the sweep and get a week off before the Conference Finals.  Even though New York was down 0-3 they had challenged Philly in each game.  The Knicks 1981 young back court of Ray Williams and Michael Ray Richardson produced their 1983 starting forwards.  Williams signed as a free agent with the Nets before the 1982 season.  As compensation, the Knicks got Maurice Lucas.  Before the 1983 season, Lucas was traded to Phoenix for Truck Robinson.  Richardson more directly brought the Knicks their star as he was traded to Golden State before the 1983 season for Bernard King.  King, Robinson and holdover center Bill Cartwright would have good games.

For the current starting back court, the Knicks had signed veteran Paul Westphal late in the 1982 season and had acquired Rory Sparrow from Atlanta mid-way through the 1983 season.  Veteran Marvin Webster (the human eraser) still came off the bench and the Knicks had acquired Louis Orr and Ernie Grunfeld and had drafted Trent Tucker with the 6th pick in 1982.

Truck Robinson matched Philly’s production early.  But the 76ers got a boost when Toney (who had been struggling with the injury) hit two field goals.  The Knicks took a 10-8 lead on two King free throws but Cheeks found Marc Iavaroni for his 4th point on a slam.  The first quarter would go back and forth as King had 8 for New York but Robinson led them with 10 (including their last 6 points).  Toney matched Truck with 10 in the quarter and a Bobby Jones free throw on a New York illegal defense tied the game at 27 going into the 2nd.

To start the 2nd quarter, Toney hit a wing jumper and then a driving banker for his 14th and surprisingly last point of the game.  Even though Toney stopped scoring, Philly didn’t led by the Doctor.  Erving hit a banker from the wing and then a jumper from the foul line after Iavaroni hit from the top of the key.  A Toney lead to Clint Richardson off a Clemon Johnson rebound put the 76ers up 39-28.  The Knicks would make a run led by King and Grunfeld.  Bernard’s spin move and runner on the break cut the lead to 49-46.  But then Erving hit an elbow jumper and Cheeks stole the ball and dished to Edwards for a layup.  Moses Malone finally got into the act when his driving layup put Philly up 56-48 at the half.

To start the 2nd half, Truck hit a free throw.  Westphal then hit from the top of the key and King had a breakaway two-handed slam (like only Bernard King can do it) and the lead was cut to 56-53.  The Knicks cut it to one after a Philly timeout when King spun in the lane and kicked out to Sparrow for a jumper.  New York took a 59-58 lead on two Robinson free throws and the game went back and forth for the next few minutes.  Malone finally got going as he scored 9 points in the third.  His three-point play on a wild shot against Cartwright gave Philadelphia a 67-66 lead and later Malone rebound-slammed an Erving miss with just his right hand to put the 76ers up 73-69.

Webster then hit two free throws and Robinson followed up an Orr miss to tie the game.  New York did take the lead again in the third but it was the 76ers who ended up on top as Cheeks found Richardson for a slam at the buzzer.  This gave Philly a 77-75 lead.  King started the 4th in style with a pull-up jumper from the wing after a between the legs dribble.  Then Westphal found him on the baseline for another jumper and Paul gave New York an 81-77 lead with a wing jumper.

But Philly again regained the lead when Edwards hit a pull-up from the wing to complete a 6-0 run.  New York tied it at 83 when Grunfeld found Westphal on the break for a layup and took the lead on two King free throws.  But then Moses tipped in his own miss and then blocked a shot to start a break.  Edwards pushed and found Erving for a gliding slam (while passing the left side of the rim) and a foul.  The three-point play put the 76ers up 88-85.  But Cartwright responded with a three-point play of his own and then King hit a baseline jumper after great Knick ball movement.  Once again New York led 90-88.

Philly reserves Edwards and Reggie Johnson scored the next four points and Philly led again.  A Cheeks turnaround from the wing put the 76ers up 96-92.  Sparrow cut it back to two with a jumper but Malone hit a fade-away from the post and then two free throws for a six-point lead.  The dagger was thrown in when New York cut it back to 100-96.  Cheeks found Malone in transition for a layup and a foul.  New York could not score against Philly’s defense down the stretch and only made the score close on two late threes (and some Philly missed free throws).

But as it was said by Bill Russell during the telecast, even though the Knicks were swept they had challenged the 76ers and had built something positive for next year.  They would pose a greater challenge to the eventual champions in 1984.  Meanwhile, Philly was on to play Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (18) – Small Forward

Marc Iavaroni (10) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (29) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (6) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (14) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Bobby Jones (7)

Clint Richardson (8)

Franklin Edwards (9)

Clemon Johnson (2)

Reggie Johnson (2)

Earl Curetan (0)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (35) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (17) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (10) – Center

Rory Sparrow (7) – Point Guard

Paul Westphal (14) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Louis Orr (0)

Trent Tucker (5)

Ed Sherod (0)

Marvin Webster (8)

Ernie Grunfeld (6)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

May 8, 1983 – Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1: Milwaukee Bucks 109 @Philadelphia 76ers 111 (OT)

The Milwaukee Bucks had finally made it to the Conference Finals after losing four of the past five years in the Semifinals (three of those four losses came in Game 7’s).  They had done so by shockingly sweeping Boston (at least shockingly until we found out the Celtics were trying to get Fitch fired).

The Bucks still had stars Marques Johnson and Sidney Moncrief.  Bob Lanier was 34 and had bad knees.  Second-year big man Alton Lister (who would succeed Lanier in the middle after Bob retired in 1984) and rookie swingman Paul Pressey rounded out the starting five.  Off the bench were two of the four players still remaining that were a part of the 1975 trade between the Bucks and Lakers involving Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Those two players were Junior Bridgeman and Brian Winters.

Toney and Cheeks hit wing jumpers for the first two Philly baskets.  Both seemed okay after being injured against New York.  Malone got two putbacks early as well.  That production was matched however by Pressey and Lister, who combined for three field goals.  Erving’s right-handed double-pump layup on the break plus the foul put Philly up five.  The 76ers increased that lead to 26-15 as Cheeks and Erving each scored 8 early points.

It was then that the Bucks bench established their presence.  Bridgeman and Winters each hit jumpers as the lead was cut to 29-23.  However, Cheeks found Marc Iavaroni at the wing for a jumper.  Then with 24 seconds left in the quarter, Cheeks hit a driving layup.  But he wasn’t done.  Mo got a steal and was fouled with 4 seconds left.  Cheeks hit two free throws for a 35-23 Philly lead after a quarter.

After jumpers from Erving and Bobby Jones countered a Bridgeman putback, Clint Richardson inbounded to Bobby Jones, who touch passed one to Clemon Johnson (who was also back) for a slam.  Philly led 41-25.  A Lanier hook eventually cut it to 42-30 but then Jones hit a jumper from the free throw line and Doc got a slam on an offensive rebound.  Bridgeman hit a fadeaway from the post and Winters a wing jumper as the bench again came to the rescue.

After a Moncrief free throw, Winters hit another jumper from the foul line off a screen.  Then Milwaukee got a long inbounds pass to Marques Johnson for a slam.  Just like that it was 46-39.  Cheeks stopped the run with a wing jumper but Bridgeman scored the next 6 Milwaukee points to cut the lead to 50-45.  Cheeks again stopped the run with a wing jumper but Moncrief alley-ooped to Marques for a response.

Clemon Johnson tipped in a Cheeks miss and Toney hit a pull-up for a nine-point lead.  Then Toney alley-ooped to Erving for the Doctor’s 17th point and a 58-49 Philly lead.  But then the Marques Johnson show began.. or continued.  It started with a three-point play on a driving layup down the middle.  Then Marques took a long Lister outlet for a fast break layup and another three-point play.  The show concluded for the first half when he hit another driving layup with 18 seconds left to cut the Philly halftime lead to 59-57.  Marques had scored the Bucks final 12 points of the half.

Philly started strong in the third.  Toney found Malone for a layup.  Iavaroni got a tip-in.  And Toney hit a baseline jumper on an Iavaroni assist.  After a Winters field goal, Cheeks scored on a baseline drive and Toney on a running hook after a steal.  A Cheeks steal and layup put Philly up 73-66 and gave him 20 points.  But later Erving committed his 4th foul.  Lanier countered with a jumper from the post and then Lister hit a baseline jumper on a Lanier assist.  Lanier later committed his 4th foul and Philly countered by taking an 85-76 lead.  But the Bucks finished strong as Marques got another three-point play on a baseline drive.  Then Moncrief took it 1-on-1 for a runner with 2 seconds left for his first field goal.  It was 85-81 76ers going into the 4th.

A Pressey driving layup cut the lead to two before Cheeks hit another pull-up from the wing and then scored after a Clint Richardson steal.  But the Bucks didn’t stop there.  Winters hit a three.  Veteran reserve guard Charlie Criss hit a pull-up and then Marques gave the Bucks a 90-89 lead with a layup after Lanier’s long pass.  Toney’s driving layup gave Philly the lead again and they eventually took a 96-92 lead after Cheeks found Erving for an up-and-under layup on the break.  Marques responded with a jumper but Toney blocked a Winters shot that could have tied it.  Andrew then scored at the other end.  Bridgeman did eventually tie it at 98 with a wing jumper.

Then disaster struck for Milwaukee.  Lanier committed his 6th foul and Malone hit two free throws.  Then Cheeks found Toney in the corner for a jumper.  But Toney committed his 5th foul and Marques got to 30 points with two free throws with 2:05 left.  Philly was called for a three-second violation on their next possession and with 1:27 left, Bridgeman hit a step-back fadeaway over Cheeks to tie the game at 102.  Cheeks responded with a driving layup at 52 seconds.  But Milwaukee hustled to get two offensive rebounds and Bridgeman tied it again with a layup.

Toney committed an offensive foul at 28 seconds and fouled out.  Milwaukee ran time down before timeout was called at 9 seconds.  The Bucks got it to Marques in the corner.  Malone blocked his jumper and Erving saved the ball to Malone and Philly got a timeout with 3 seconds left.  Unfortunately for them, they had to inbound at three quarter court and ended up stuck in the backcourt without getting a shot off in time.

The overtime started with Moncrief missing two free throws.  Malone later got a block and a save to ignite the crowd, but he committed an offensive foul at the other end when he was perhaps a little too juiced (with adrenaline).  Bridgeman got the first score when he tipped in a Marques miss but then he fouled out.  With 2:37 left, Richardson tipped in a Malone miss to tie the game at 106.  But then Criss fed Winters for a wing jumper and the 6th foul on Erving, who joined Toney on the bench.  Milwaukee had a three-point lead and a great chance to steal Game 1 in Philly after losing to the 76ers in the playoffs the last two years.

They had a chance to increase that lead after Moncrief blocked a Richardson shot.  Winters though missed a wing jumper for a rare time.  This miss ignited a Philly break.  Winters hustled back and fouled Richardson with 1:36 left.  Richardson hit the two free throws.  Then Bobby Jones made an incredible steal on the inbounds pass and an even more incredible save to Richardson for a slam and a 110-109 Philly lead as the crowd went nuts.

Lister turned the ball over on a bad pass but Philly couldn’t increase its lead.  Milwaukee came back down where Winters missed again.  But Marques got the offensive rebound and was fouled with 26 seconds left.  But in an unfortunate choke for an underrated player historically in Marques Johnson, he missed both free throws.  Richardson made a free throw with 9 seconds left for a two-point Philly lead.  Milwaukee had one more chance.  After a timeout, they set up Winters open at the top of the key behind the three-point line.  Milwaukee was making a gutsy (and I believe correct call) in going for the win on the road.  But unfortunately for the Bucks, the three bricked off the back of the rim and the clock ran out.

Milwaukee could have perhaps taken momentum if they had found a way to take this game.  But instead Philly won the series in 5 games after taking the first three.  But Milwaukee can take solace in the fact that they were the only team that defeated Philly in any game in the 1983 NBA Playoffs.

Milwaukee starters (points scored)

Marques Johnson (30) – Small Forward

Alton Lister (6) – Power Forward

Bob Lanier (15) – Center

Sidney Moncrief (7) – Point Guard

Paul Pressey (10) – Shooting Guard

Milwaukee bench (points scored)

Junior Bridgeman (22)

Brian Winters (17)

Charlie Criss (2)

Harvey Catchings (0)

Paul Mokeski (0)

Milwaukee Coach: Don Nelson

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (19) – Small Forward

Marc Iavaroni (9) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (14) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (26) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (22) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Bobby Jones (6)

Clint Richardson (9)

Franklin Edwards (0)

Clemon Johnson (6)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

marques and lanier

Marques Johnson (#8) and Bob Lanier were the cornerstones for the Bucks in the early 80’s *photo courtesy of Mears online auction

May 20, 1983 – Western Conference Finals, Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers 101 @San Antonio Spurs 100

The Lakers won Game 1 against the Spurs at the Forum.  That was the last victory by the home team in this series.  San Antonio had dispatched Denver in 5 games in the Semifinals to earn a chance to play the Lakers for the second straight year in the Western Finals.

There was one major change for the Spurs that was thought to give them a chance to dethrone the Lakers.  San Antonio had acquired Artis Gilmore to contend with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Gilmore joined George Gervin, Mike Mitchell, Johnny Moore, and Gene Banks in the starting lineup.

4 of those 5 starters scored at least 20 points in Game 5 as the Spurs staved off elimination at the Forum.  They were confident coming back to the HemisFair Arena that they could extend the series to 7 games.  Johnny Moore got off to a good start with two quick field goals.  But Kareem got off to a better start.  First, Nixon found him for a slam.  Then Abdul-Jabbar got a three-point play on an inside move in the post.  Then Kareem hit two elbow jumpers for a five-point Lakers lead.

San Antonio cut it to 17-15 on Gervin’s first field goal (George was the last Spur starter to score in this game).  But Wilkes kept the Lakers ahead with 10 first quarter points as he got on the boards and Magic found him three times for easy shots.  Mitchell’s driving layup cut the Lakers lead to 29-26 at the end of the first quarter.

The game went back-and-forth in the beginning of the 2nd.  Mitchell scored at will for the Spurs while the Lakers got a spark from Bob McAdoo off the bench.  A driving layup by reserve and former Rocket Mike Dunleavy gave the Spurs a 41-39 lead.  It was their last lead until next season.  Wilkes found McAdoo for his 8th point on a baseline jumper.  Then McAdoo scored on a driving layup and Magic found him for a layup.  McAdoo then hit two free throws after a Dunleavy three-pointer from the corner.

The Lakers finished the 2nd quarter in a flurry and led 64-55 at the half but McAdoo pulled a thigh muscle and was questionable to return.  He did return briefly at the start of the 4th quarter but he would be hampered in the NBA Finals and missed half the series.

L.A. took a 68-55 lead on a 10-0 that extended from the 2nd.  But Gilmore got two slams as the Spurs scored 6 of the next 8 points.  Kareem hit a sky-hook from the baseline to put the Lakers back up 72-61.  They had a chance to increase it but Magic uncharacteristically missed two free throws.  Magic for this game piled up double digit rebounds and assists, but was held to two points.

A Gilmore hook eventually cut the lead to 74-69.  It was Artis’ 16th point and 8th of the third.  Moore later found him for another layup but Nixon twice answered Gilmore with two field goals.  Nixon then found Wilkes for a breakaway layup on a terrific bounce pass.  But the Spurs eventually cut it to 84-81 when Moore tipped a ball in on the Spurs 4th shot of the possession.  Kareem got a slam but San Antonio ended the third quarter with the momentum trailing 86-81.

The story of the 4th quarter was that the Lakers shot terribly but the Spurs couldn’t take advantage.  They had numerous opportunities to cut the lead but missed a lot of good shots.  Despite shooting under 30% for the period, L.A. took a 94-86 lead.  The Spurs cut it in half when Gilmore recovered a loose ball and slammed one in and then Mitchell hit a jumper in the lane.  But with a chance to cut it to two, reserve Edgar Jones missed two free throws.  Nixon later went coast-to-coast after a steal and it was 96-90 L.A.

With 2:03 left, the Lakers took a 100-94 lead when Kareem found a cutting Michael Cooper for a layup.  Gervin responded at 1:36 with his 6th consecutive Spur point on a foul line jumper.  With 1:20 left, Nixon made 1-of-2 free throws and San Antonio called timeout down 101-96 with 1:16 left.  They got a quick play executed as Banks inbounded to Mitchell, who immediately found Gilmore for a slam.  The play only took 4 seconds.

On the next Lakers possession, Kareem missed a sky-hook and with 35 seconds left, Gervin scored on a driving finger roll down the middle and it was 101-100 Lakers.  L.A. ran down the shot clock but didn’t get a good shot as Wilkes missed a fade-away.  San Antonio got the rebound and called time with 10 seconds left.

Inbounding from the backcourt, Gervin found Moore who penetrated and kicked out to Mitchell.  Mitchell drove in and had his first shot blocked.  Mitchell’s 2nd shot was short and off the rim with 3 seconds left.  Gilmore got a hand on the ball but couldn’t control the rebound enough to put one back in before the buzzer.  The Lakers by the skin of their teeth advanced to the NBA Finals.

The Spurs wouldn’t be that close to the NBA Finals until the David Robinson era in 1995.  In fact, that was the last time the Spurs advanced beyond the first round until the Admiral’s rookie year in 1990.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (16) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (8) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (28) – Center

Magic Johnson (2) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (17) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Bob McAdoo (14)

Michael Cooper (14)

Clay Johnson (2)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

San Antonio starters (points scored)

Gene Banks (7) – Small Forward

Mike Mitchell (17) – Power Forward

Artis Gilmore (24) – Center

Johnny Moore (17) – Point Guard

George Gervin (25) – Shooting Guard

San Antonio bench (points scored)

Edgar Jones (3)

Mike Dunleavy (7)

Billy Paultz (0)

San Antonio Coach: Stan Albeck


Artis Gilmore was acquired by the Spurs to match up against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar *photo courtesy of Big Apple blog

May 22, 1983 – NBA Finals, Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 107 @Philadelphia 76ers 113

It turned out that perhaps the biggest turning point of the series happened in the first 5 minutes of Game 1.  On a loose ball there was a collision between Andrew Toney and Norm Nixon.  Nixon came out of it with a separated shoulder, although he didn’t know it right away.  While Nixon had 26 points in Game 1, he scored 8 and 7 in the next two games before sitting out Game 4 with a hurt knee.  Nixon was traded to the Clippers early in training camp of 1983-84 for Swen Nater and the Clippers draft pick, Byron Scott.

Toney came out of the collision all right, perhaps even better than all right.  With the game tied at 12, Malone hit a hook shot while Kareem pushed him in the back.  Iavaroni then got a put back for a 17-12 Philly lead.  Toney then hit two free throws before Malone got a steal and Toney hit a pull-up from the top of the key on a 2-on-1.  Toney then got his 10th point of the quarter on a pull-up from the elbow and it was 23-12 76ers.

Two Kareem field goals kicked off a 6-0 Lakers run but Toney answered.  First, he hit a baseline jumper and then a driving hook in transition while he was fouled.  A Clemon Johnson turnaround in the post capped a Philly 7-0 run and put them up 30-18.  A Magic cutting layup from Cooper cut the margin to 30-20 going into the 2nd quarter.

The Lakers started strong as Cooper and Magic hit wing jumpers.  Then Mark Landsberger scored on a putback.  Landsberger and Dwight Jones were getting playing time off the Lakers bench in place of the injured McAdoo, who played in games 2 and 3 but wasn’t himself.  A Malone offensive rebound put the 76ers up 34-28 but then Magic scored on a put-back and was fouled.  After two Landsberger free throws, the Lakers had a chance to lead as Magic went coast-to-coast on a drive.  But as he slammed the ball through he charged into Erving for a foul.

Erving then scored with his left hand on a put-back.  The 76ers maintained the lead for awhile.  Magic eventually committed his 3rd foul and a Bobby Jones slam on an Erving feed put Philly up 44-39.  But then Nixon scored and was fouled on a driving layup down the middle.  After an Erving free throw, Kareem found a cutting Clay Johnson for a layup.  The Doctor responded with a step-back from the baseline but then Nixon found Clay Johnson for another layup.  The Lakers finally took their first lead at 48-47 when Wilkes hit a bank shot after a Clay Johnson save.

Two Malone field goals matched the Lakers.  Then Moses had two blocks on the same possession before Franklin Edwards gave Philly a 54-53 lead with two free throws.  Nixon hit a corner jumper with 5 seconds left to give the Lakers the lead again.  Then the 76ers threw the ball away as they tried to go long but nobody touched the ball.  Despite nobody touching the ball, four seconds went off the clock but L.A. got it under Philly’s basket with 1 second left.  Cooper then alley-ooped to Clay Johnson to give the Lakers a 57-54 halftime lead.

The Lakers took a five-point lead on a Magic wing jumper.  But then Erving got a block on a seemingly open Magic layup and Cheeks hit a pull-up from the wing.  Then Mo found Toney on the break for a layup.  Two Kareem layups kept the Lakers up but he committed his 3rd foul early in the 3rd.  L.A. led 64-62 when Cheeks found Clint Richardson in the corner for a jumper.  Then Cheeks went coast-to-coast after a steal.  Erving got another block and then finished with a driving layup.  Then Erving found Cheeks for a layup and Philly led 70-64.

The Lakers cut it back to 74-71 before Toney penetrated and found Clint Richardson for a wing jumper.  Richardson then hit a driving layup on the break.  But back-to-back Nixon field goals on Magic assists cut the lead back to 82-79.  Then Toney alley-ooped to Erving.  The Lakers did cut it to 85-83 after three quarters.

Early in the 4th, Kareem committed his 4th foul but Moses missed two free throws.  But it didn’t end up hurting the 76ers as Toney found Iavaroni for a layup and Bobby Jones found Malone for another.  A Malone layup on a strong move and a foul put Philly up 94-86.  Kareem kicked out to Nixon for a jumper but then Toney hit a pull-up from the free throw line.  Then Malone hit a turn-around in the post and Bobby Jones kicked out to Richardson for a corner jumper.  The 76ers led 100-88 at this point.  Magic found Cooper for a cutting layup and then Nixon hit another jumper.  But a Richardson put-back gave Philly a 103-92 lead.

Kareem hit a free throw and then Magic fed Wilkes for a driving layup.  Then Nixon hit a pull-up from the wing and it was 103-97.  The Lakers had a chance to further cut into it but Cooper missed a layup on the break.  The 76ers went in transition and Cheeks found Erving for a driving slam over a standing Magic Johnson.  After that point for most of the rest of the game, the 76ers answered every Lakers basket.  This concluded when Erving kicked out to Bobby Jones at the elbow for a jumper to give the 76ers a 111-103 lead with a few minutes left.

But then after Wilkes hit a tough corner jumper, a Philadelphia 24-second violation gave the Lakers the ball back with 1:11 left down 111-105.  Cooper missed a long two from the wing with his foot just on the line but eventually Magic put back a Wilkes miss.  Then Philly had a turnover with 21 seconds left.  But Kareem missed a sky hook with a chance to cut it to two.  L.A. got another chance when Bobby Jones uncharacteristically missed two free throws.  But Cooper missed a three and Malone hit two free throws with 1 second left.

For the first time in three NBA Finals against the Lakers, the 76ers had a series lead.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (16) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (5) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20) – Center

Magic Johnson (19) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (26) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Michael Cooper (11)

Dwight Jones (0)

Clay Johnson (6)

Mark Landsberger (4)

Steve Mix (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (20) – Small Forward

Marc Iavaroni (6) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (27) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (10) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (25) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Bobby Jones (4)

Clint Richardson (15)

Franklin Edwards (2)

Clemon Johnson (4)

Reggie Johnson (0)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

May 31, 1983 – NBA Finals, Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers 115 @Los Angeles Lakers 108

The 76ers had won the next two games as well by scores of 103-93 and 111-94.  With a win in Game 4 they would have gone 12-1 in the 1983 NBA Playoffs.  This would be a record until 2001 (and only was a record set then because the NBA added an extra playoff series in 1984.. I think if Philadelphia had to play an 8-seed in 1983, they would have swept them and gone 15-1 too).

Both teams came out with some jitters in this game.  After Cheeks found Toney for a baseline jumper on the first possession, Philadelphia missed several shots in a row and Iavaroni missed two free throws.  The Lakers had a lot of turnovers early but took an early 3-2 lead on Magic’s three-point play.  Eventually the action got going.  Malone scored on a putback.  Magic found Wilkes for a breakaway layup.  Cheeks hit a baseline jumper but Magic pushed the ball in transition off the make and found Kareem for a slam over Moses.

Finally Philly took a 12-9 lead when Toney alley-ooped to Erving and then Erving got another slam on a baseline drive.  That lead increased to 18-11 when Malone got a layup versus Magic on a switch.  But then Kareem hit back-to-back sky hooks and the Lakers eventually had the margin down to 24-23 in Philly’s favor.  The 76ers were playing for the last shot of the quarter, or at least should have been.  Richardson took a corner jumper with 6 seconds left and missed it.  The Lakers got the rebound and pushed it to Cooper, who hit a pull-up three from the wing to give L.A. a 26-24 lead after the first quarter.

Because of injuries now to Nixon and McAdoo, the Lakers had to go to players that they weren’t expecting to count on.  Even though Mike McGee and Mark Landsberger gave them sparks off the bench, the starters played inspired basketball for awhile to keep the Lakers ahead.  Magic was scoring more than usual and had 17 first half points, including 10 in the 2nd period.  Kareem had his normal strong game going with 18 points in the first half.  But back-to-back field goals by Malone on the same possession (the 76ers rebounded a Malone missed free throw when he was trying to complete a three-point play) cut the Lakers lead to 42-39.

But then Landsberger put back a Dwight Jones miss.  Magic scored on a runner in the lane.  Wilkes hit a banker from the wing.  Magic hit two free throws and Cooper swung the ball to Wilkes in the corner for a jumper.  The run concluded on the break when Magic alley-ooped to Cooper for a tough layup executed while Cooper’s body was under the basket.  The Lakers led at that point, 54-39.  The Lakers maintained that advantage for the rest of the half led by Wilkes and Kareem.  L.A. led 65-51 at the break.  It was the fourth game of this series that they led at halftime.  So far, they were 0-3.

Magic made a wing jumper to start the 2nd half but then the 76ers made a run to cut the 16-point lead in half.  Cheeks hit a baseline jumper after Toney penetration and then Mo hit two free throws.  Erving got a field goal on a goaltending and then he hit Iavaroni for a layup after a Kareem banker.  Then Toney’s jumper from the corner cut the lead to 69-61.  But L.A. regained a 13-point lead at 76-63 on back-to-back field goals by Wilkes.

The 76ers went on another mini 7-2 run as Bobby Jones hit two jumpers but L.A. regained an 82-70 lead.  Then the 76ers hit 6 straight free throws and then a driving layup by Toney cut the lead to 82-78.  Magic then hit a three-point play on a runner in the lane plus the foul.  After a Malone field goal, Kareem hit a left-handed sky hook off the glass.  Malone hit two more free throws but then Dwight Jones tipped in his own miss and it looked like L.A. was going to take a 91-82 lead going into the 4th when Cooper made two free throws with only a few seconds left in the quarter.  Not so fast.  Cooper deflected a long pass to Magic who found Dwight Jones.  Jones missed a layup but the ball was tipped and ran down by Landsberger, who hit a fade-away from about 10 feet out at the buzzer.  The Lakers had a 93-82 lead and the crowd was going crazy.

But the 76ers started the fourth quarter quickly.  Richardson hit two free throws and Erving found Malone for a layup.  Later, Toney found Malone for another layup to cut the Lakers lead to 95-88.  Then Toney found the Doctor for a cutting slam down the middle.  Then Bobby Jones got a steal and found Richardson for a slam on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 break.  The Lakers regained a 100-93 lead on a Kareem three-point play on a strong move versus Moses.  But on the next possession, Moses epitomized how difficult he was to contain on the boards.

He missed a turnaround over Kareem but got the rebound against Abdul-Jabbar.  He double-pump reversed on the next shot and missed but then followed his miss against Kareem again and made the third shot.  Then Cheeks went coast-to-coast after a Bobby Jones defensive rebound.  Then Magic committed his 4th foul and Toney hit two free throws to cut the lead to 100-99.  Rambis tipped in a Wilkes miss but Toney came back with a pull-up after a Philly offensive rebound.

The 76ers had a chance to lead on their next possession but Wilkes stole the ball from Toney and Magic found Cooper on the break for a layup.  But then Kareem committed his 5th foul and Toney hit two more free throws.  After a Kareem layup on an inside move, Cheeks hit 1-of-2 free throws to cut the lead to 106-104 with just over 2 minutes left.

On the next Lakers possession, Kareem tried to kick out to Magic but Erving stole that pass and glided in for a breakaway slam to tie the game.  With 1:44 left, Magic hit 1-of-2 free throws for a one-point Laker lead.  Philly then committed a 24-second violation.  Kareem then was short on a baseline sky hook.  Malone rebounded and outletted to Cheeks for a fast break.  Cheeks hit Erving who was hit on the arm but continued on and made the driving layup while the foul was called.  With 59 seconds left, Erving’s free throw gave Philly a 109-107 lead.

With 42 seconds left, Kareem made 1-of-2 free throws and the 76ers had the ball with a one-point lead.  They ran the clock down until Erving was 1-on-1 against Magic at the top of the key.  The Doctor faked like he was going to drive before simply raising up and hitting a jumper over Johnson with 24 seconds left.  The 76ers led 111-108 and the man who had wanted an NBA championship for a long time had scored the last 7 points.

Cooper missed a three and Bobby Jones stole the ball from Kareem.  Cheeks then fed Malone for a slam with 13 seconds left.  The 76ers got frosting on a Cheeks slam with 1 second left to finally win the title after several years of playoff frustration since Erving became a 76er in 1976.

The 76ers and the city of Philadelphia celebrated long into the summer.  It would be Philadelphia’s last championship celebration until the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (21) – Small Forward

Marc Iavaroni (4) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (24) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (20) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (23) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Bobby Jones (13)

Clint Richardson (6)

Clemon Johnson (4)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (21) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (7) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (28) – Center

Magic Johnson (27) – Point Guard

Michael Cooper (13) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Dwight Jones (2)

Mike McGee (6)

Mark Landsberger (4)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

moses-malone julius_erving

Moses Malone proved to be the answer for Philly finally getting over the hump while Julius Erving and the 76ers were paraded through the Vet during a Phillies game *photos courtesy of and Photos from Philly blog


From → NBA

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