The clash between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers—one a dynasty aging, the other a dynasty abuilding—is pro basketball's most dramatic in years. They are well-met opponents. In the past two seasons they have faced each other 23 times, with Boston winning 13, LA 10. This is how the two teams match up.
THE BOSTON CELTICS
Auerbach pulls his forwards in and out like yo-yos. Satch Sanders is improving, but erratic. The other starter, high-keyed gunner Tommy Heinsohn, shoots well against Lakers. Cagey Frank Ramsey is a master at coming off the bench fresh to score a couple of quick ones against a tired defender. Rugged Rookie John Havlicck is a portrait of Ramsey as a young man, and can play the backcourt, too.
Bill Russell is the best off either board, any day. The Lakers get few points in the pivot, so Russell's defensive skills are used to keep LA from driving up the middle. Old Clyde Lovellette is an able sub.
Bob Cousy is as good as he ever was, but he plays less—a little more than half a game against the Lakers. Still, he has averaged a point every two minutes, an assist every three against them. Sub K. C. Jones is a seasoned playmaker with an occasional hot hand. Defensively, he ranks with the best. The shooting Jones—Sam—has upped his scoring to 20 a game, high on a balanced team that has seven men in double figures. He is a good rebounder too, and often plays up front.
The Celtics have pride, balance, Russell and wisdom. But they also have an 80-game schedule. Theirs will be a race against the clock.
THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Though always harassed by a fresh Celtic defender, Elgin Baylor has a season average of 35 points, 15 rebounds, five assists vs. Boston. Rudy LaRusso flanks him with enough scoring to ease the pressure on Baylor. He could shoot more. His best defensive work is under the basket. Rookie LeRoy Ellis is hot and cold. He could use his height (6 feet 10) to better advantage against smaller Boston forwards.
Weakest spot. Rookie Gene Wiley rarely talks, never shoots—but plays best against Russell. He is slow getting ball up court off boards. Jim Krebs has fine long shot, tries to draw Russell out from basket.
Jerry West is excellent at dual job of scoring (26.6) and directing attack, yet is even better on defense. He is league's best backcourt rebounder. Starting partner Frank Selvy has menacing jump shot he doesn't use enough. In fit of immodesty he hit 16 of 20 in January Boston game. Dick Barnett ought to drive more. His whole game suffers when his fall-back jumper is off. World's most talkative substitute, Hot Rod Hundley, is all business when needed.