The good? They were very, very good. As for the bad...well, they were horrid. The shortsighted and/or spendthrift managements in Cleveland, San Diego and Utah blundered their way to just 57 wins combined. (That's the same number of regular-season games won by the Lakers, who in this parody of parity somehow still ended up with the first pick in the draft.) In 1970-71, as an expansion team, the Cavaliers won 15 games. Eleven years later, as candidates for a contraction team, they won 15 games. Stabler and much abler, the Boston Celtics won at least 60—and the Atlantic Division title—for the third straight year, thanks to an 18-game streak late in the season begun in Larry Bird's and Tiny Archibald's absence. The Denver Nuggets, while setting a record for most points scored, set another for most allowed. San Antonio's George Gervin, the league's scoring leader, and Houston's Moses Malone, the rebounding champ, MVP and $13.2 million 76er-to-be, led their teams to the playoffs.
If not for Moncrief, the Milwaukee Bucks wouldn't have won 55 games and the Central Division crown. At 6'4", he topped the injury-plagued Bucks in-good 'crief!—scoring, rebounding and assists. Seattle's Gus Williams, idle the previous season because he didn't like the numbers on his contract, accounted for 23.4 points a game and was named Comeback Player of the Year. And two teams in the Atlantic proved precocious. Washington and New Jersey were taken lightly in preseason polls, but each made the playoffs with Clearasil nuclei and Geritol fill-ins.
The 76ers, scorned in their own town, dispatched Boston in its hallowed Garden in the Eastern Conference finals after squandering a 3-1 lead in games. Philly's Andrew Toney plagued the Celts all series long with a chest-first jump shot that one observer said looked like a hood ornament. Even tonier was The Doctor. Two weeks after being turned away again in his quest for a title, there was Erving, narrating Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with a Philadelphia orchestra, for a bunch of kids.
Indiana could muster only 7,800 fans a game despite double-posting Loni Anderson low.