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Celtics Top Warriors in Opener of NBA Finals

Apr. 18, 1964 - Chalk one up for the Celtics.

With big Bill Russell sidelined for the game’s final 15 minutes under the onus of five personal fouls, the Celtics famed bench rose to the occasion to turn back the towering San Francisco Warriors, 108-96, before 13,909 at Boston Garden tonight.

The victory sent the Celtics one up in the best-of-seven series for the NBA championship, with the second game to be played at the Garden Monday night.

John Havlicek provided with the spark with a playoff-record-tying eight field goals in the 32-point second period, scoring 14 consecutive points in a seven-minute span to send a 29-24 Celtic advantage to 57-39 at intermission.

Havlicek was unstoppable as the bewildered Warrior backcourt folded under the sophomore’s terrific pressure. Hondo dropped in four swishes and added a run-in steal and a slick layup with two free throws against eight points by the Warriors in this seven-minute spree.

Meanwhile, Russell was completely shackling a disgusted Wilt Chamberlain, holding him toa single free throw throughout the second period. Wilt was able to get off but two shots from the floor in the 12 minutes and scored a single free throw, having but 10 points for the half.

Russell was brilliant over the first half, time and again coming up with the vital defensive rebound with the mighty Warrior front line of Chamberlain, Wayne Hightower, and burly Nate Thurmond surrounding him. Bill took 21 off the boards in the first half against Chamberlain’s 15 and hit three of seven from the floor.

“Bill played a hell of a game,” said Wilt afterward. “Of course, you have to have men like Sam Jones and Havlicek toss the ball in to win. But Bill played great. We still lost just one game though. And we played a lousy game — we went stagnant. You know, we thought we were going to lose at least one game in this series, and this may be it.”

Bob Cousy said after the game it would be four straight. But Russell said, “No, it will be a hard series. The pressure is going to be terrific. And it won’t let up until we have won the fourth.”

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