MILWAUKEE -- The Boston Celtics have advanced to the NBA finals for the third straight season, and displayed a tactic Sunday that will make preparing for them even tougher.
The Celtics will have at least a week to rest as they wait for a winner in the Western Conference final between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Boston captured the Eastern Conference title Sunday, completing a four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks with a 111-98, aided greatly by its 'Lumberjack Lineup.'
Late in the game against Milwaukee, guard Dennis Johnson fouled out. Coach K.C. Jones reinserted 7-foot center Robert Parish to give Boston a lineup of 7-2 Bill Walton, 6-10 Kevin McHale and 6-9 Larry Bird.
Bird was shifted to guard beside 6-5 Danny Ainge.
'It's something that has worked for us before,' Jones said. 'So when Dennis fouled out, we just put Larry at guard.'
That lineup would be advantageous against either Los Angeles or Houston. The Rockets, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, lean on their Twin-Tower alignment of 7-0 Akeem Olajuwon and 7-4 Ralph Sampson. A bigger lineup would help neutralize the Rockets' size up front.
If the Lakers are able to win three straight and advance to the final, Boston can insert their bigger lineup to try and control the boards and slow the Laker fastbreak.
The addition of Walton has enabled the Celtics to be more flexible up front. Walton usually is called on to relieve Parish. This season, in playing the most games of his NBA career and most minutes since his Portland championship days, Walton won the league's sixth-man award as the best player off the bench.
Parish, Walton, McHale Bird and Ainge are among the most physical players in the NBA. The whole Boston team plays aggressive basketball, and with the depth it has displayed up front it can afford to.
The Celtics beat you and beat on you. They act like pounding the ball inside, or getting a rebound, is their divine right.
The Bucks' Sidney Moncrief came wheeling through a big hole next to Bird and the center. He was a foot away from Bird, but the Celtics' forward gave him a forearm on the way by -- and accepted the foul call that resulted.
McHale blatantly whacked a Milwaukee player with the game nearly over -- and laughed as though the call was a joke when he was nailed with a foul.
It's typical of theCeltics' style -- pound, pound, pound. They dive for loose balls, they come up with any rebound not immediately taken by an opponent and they pack the middle.
'I wish everybody would know how tough it is to score inside when they want to shut you down,' Milwaukee coach Don Nelson said. 'They are a very, very good basketball team; well coached.'