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Celtics Destroy Royals in Game 1 of NBA East Finals

Mar. 31, 1964 - Boston’s Bill Russell reduced the Cincinnati Royals’ big guns to a bunch of beanshooters tonight as the defending world champion Celtics swept to a 103-87 victory and a 1-0 lead over the Royals in their best-of-seven NBA Eastern Division playoff series.

Before a capacity Boston Garden crowd of 13,909, Russell stopped Cincinnati’s offense with his rebounding and shot blocking and combined with Sam Jones and Tom Heinsohn to lead a Boston third-quarter breakaway that finished the Royals long before the final buzzer sounded.

Oscar Robertson, who had averaged almost 34 points against these same Celtics in the regular season, scored only 20 in this playoff opener, seldom able to penetrate against Russell. Oscar made but six of 20 from the field.

Jerry Lucas, still hurting with a back injury despite a protective brace, was just as bad from the field, hitting but four-of-14.

“It was just an offensive nightmare,” said Cincinnati coach Jack McMahon. “There were only three minutes of good basketball played in the whole game, and that was by them early in the third quarter when they broke out on us. With Russell’s shot-blocking, we’ve seen it before. He scares you all the time.”

Regarding Lucas, McMahon said: “I’m just very disappointed he’s not ready for these games. He’s a major part of our team. We have to have his defensive rebounding.” Lucas again had shown the effects of his painful back condition, hardly getting into the air during the first half.

“It will come,” said Lucas. “It felt a little better the second half.”

“Did you ever see us play this bad?” he asked forlornly. “But this thing’s not over yet.”

In the Boston dressing room, coach Red Auerbach called Russell’s defensive performance and rebounding “fantastic.”

“Whenever he plays like that, he dominates the game,” Auerbach remarked.


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