80s Era Part Fifteen – 1983-84 in Review

The latest in a continuing series on the 1980s NBA, the 1983-84 Season Review section is now posted. The Boston Celtics win their 15th title (40 years ago), the Houston Rockets start rebuilding, the NBA coaching carousel hits a new gear, and more.

You can read the full series by visiting The 80s Era Plus 40 page.

I continue to experiment with Datawrapper, and used it to try to replicate a chart from the article that was originally created using Microsoft Excel. The Datawrapper layout is a little different, but I like it too.

Boston Celtics Preseason Games

Today I posted a new edition (#11) of Barnstorming through New England: The Boston Celtics in the Preseason, 1946-1991. Thanks to the continued expansion of online newspaper archives, I was able to add 2 new box scores (10/3/1959 vs. Lakers, 10/5/1972 vs. Hawks/Maravich), to bring the total to 411 out of 426 exhibition games against pro competition from 1946 through 1991.

This edition also includes new sections containing 23 box scores for preseason games that the Celtics played against semi-pro or amateur teams, and intrasquad games that they played against themselves. Most are from the 1950’s.

There are also minor improvements to some box scores that were included in earlier editions, such as:

11/7/1947: score by periods now complete
10/11/1955: added FGA and FTA
10/10/1956: score by periods now complete
10/2/1971: score by periods more complete

80s Era Part Thirteen – The Boston Celtics: How They Were Built

The latest in a continuing series. Red Auerbach drafts Larry Bird, trades for Robert Parish (and the pick that turned into Kevin McHale), swindles the Suns to acquire Dennis Johnson, and swaps Cedric Maxwell for Bill Walton. Boston had missed the playoffs two years in a row at the end of the 1970’s, but these moves like these resulted in three championships in six years during the early 1980’s.

You can read the full series by visiting The 80s Era Plus 40 page.

80s Era Part Twelve: 1982-83 in Review

The latest in a continuing series on the 1980s NBA, the 1982-83 Season Review section is now posted. Julius Erving, with a big assist from Moses Malone, adds an NBA championship to his resume as the Philadelphia 76ers sweep the Los Angeles Lakers. The 76ers are still waiting to win another.

You can read the full series by visiting The 80s Era Plus 40 page.

One example of how much the NBA has changed in 40 years: During the 2023 Finals the Denver Nuggets took more 3-pointers than the 1983 76ers attempted during their entire regular season. To be fair, the 76ers were next-to-last in the league in 3-point attempts that year; only the Lakers took fewer threes (96). Ironically, Andrew Toney of the 76ers used the 3-pointer more than most players, finishing the year tied for 7th in 3FGM (22) and 10th in 3FGA (76). But the rest of the team shot a woeful 3-for-33 beyond the arc.

Nuggets Win

Congratulations to the Denver Nuggets for winning their first NBA Championship. It has been a long road for Nuggets fans, especially for those who have been following the team since they debuted as the Denver Rockets in the ABA in the fall of 1967. Renamed the Nuggets for the 1974-75 season, the team won 60+ games in each of their final two ABA campaigns, but failed to win an ABA title.

The Nuggets lost to the New York Nets in the 1976 ABA Finals, then, along with the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers, the four teams were absorbed into the NBA.

The early days of the ex-ABA clubs in the NBA were a mixed bag. The Nets were derailed by financial woes that forced them to sell Julius Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers (an ironic twist, since the Nets had only been able to acquire Erving four years earlier due to the financial woes of the Virginia Squires franchise); Indiana, coming off their worst season in the ABA, did not finish above .500 until 1981 and qualified for the playoffs just twice between 1977 and 1989. San Antonio reached the conference finals three times over the next seven seasons but never won, while Denver captured back-to-back NBA Midwest Division titles before fading.

None of them reached the NBA Finals until the Spurs won it all in 1999. The ABA refugees then went on a run, with the Pacers (2000), Nets (2002, 2003), and the Spurs (2003, 2005, 2007) all getting to the Finals during the first decade of the 21st century.

But Denver had to wait until 2023 to finally win it all.

1958 NBA Postseason Tour

I’m starting the new year with a minor update to a document I have been working on for about 5 years: A chronicle of a 22-game exhibition tour featuring two dozen NBA stars that took place after the completion of the 1958 NBA season.

A few days ago, I found a partial box score for the game on May 3, 1958, which was the last game on my “missing” list. The box score has some problems (see the .pdf at the link above for the details) but it is still satisfying to find it. For a few years, I wondered if this game, held in Houston, Texas, had actually been played at all.

It is easy to find newspaper accounts of most games on this tour, usually from wire services, but locating info on the May 3 contest was more difficult. The fact that the game was played on a Saturday did not help; Sunday papers traditionally had/have early deadlines, and “afternoon editions” are virtually non-existent on weekends. The final game of the tour was played on Sunday, May 4, so by the time the Monday papers were assembled, there was a newer game story to carry.

Program from the tour