Afterward, Toney was asked about his unusual shooting style. "It's not unusual to me," he said. That's all right. Bostonians don't think they have accents. In the unhappy Garden exodus one was-heard to mutter, "If the Celtics don't go any fahtha this year, I'm through."
The next night another fan in the Garden lobby seemed to be calling on the Deity for help: "A god! A god! What we need is a god!" One had to wonder if the speaker wouldn't settle for, say, Russell or Bob Cousy or at least John Havlicek. "Ah-chibahld is good but not great," the fan continued. "We need a god." Oh, a god. A guard! Another rap at the back-court. No more of those this night, though, as Archibald scored 19 points and had four assists, and Ford and Carr bottled up the hated Toney, at least until Bird led the Celtics out to a flash 19-point first-half lead that never diminished as Boston won 118-99.
The crowd booed Toney lustily, but not nearly so passionately as it hooted Dawkins each time he left the game. Double D was in foul trouble all the way and collected a measly eight points and seven rebounds. As for Toney, Ford played right up in his face like a bulldog, so aggressively, in fact, that Ford picked up three fouls in the first period. The crowd loved it, and few realized that Toney had clicked for 35 points—you got it, 35—until the final stats were announced.
"I don't think Toney will beat us again in the series," said Fitch. "O.K., he got 35. But 35 when you're down 20 means our defense was working where it should."
Where it worked was everywhere else, especially on Erving, held by Maxwell and McHale to 12 points. "I was the goat, in Game I," said Maxwell. "So I knew I needed to make up for it tonight."
Underneath the basket, Boston brought all its power to bear, dominating in rebounds 52-41. Parish had 12 of them, along with four blocked shots and 17 points. Caldwell Jones, Philly's best rebounder, could get his hands on only five, mainly because his hands were full of Bird. "Nah," said Jones. "I think...I was...I got...whew...how many points did he get?"
Bird got 34, and 16 rebounds. He hit 14 of 21 shots from everywhere, whether guarded by Jones One, Jones Two or two Joneses and a player to be named later. He worked the basketball masterfully, playing his defender like a yo-yo on a string. "He's the best flat-footed faker I've ever seen," said Bobby Jones. With the ball held low and to the side or above his head. Bird would send his man streaking this way or that with a mere flick of an elbow or a nod of his head. If his man stayed with him, he would whip a fake pass behind his back, and then, when the defender turned his head, Bird would pull the ball back and flick away the quickest and truest 22-footer since Jerry West.
Bird is still shy with the press. Nevertheless, 30 reporters waited while he took a 40-minute shower. When he emerged they sang Hail to the Chief. He smiled. He was asked if the game was easy for him. "Easy?" he said. "I worked harder tonight than ever. It's never easy, because you're banging, pushing, scratching for everything you get."
Optimism flowed from the Garden portals once more. "It's got to be Auerbach," said a cabbie settling behind the wheel. "Parish, McHale, Carr, I never even heard of 'em before. What're they going to do when Red retires? Hang a cigar from the ceiling, or what?"
So it was on to Philadelphia's Spectrum, where the Celtics hadn't won since Jan. 20, 1979. That's nine straight, including playoffs. "I've never won a game there. What's it like?" said Bird to Ford. "I can't remember," said Ford. For this trip, Boston switched hotels, hoping to break the jinx, but on Friday night the 76ers pulled out all the stops to make the Celtics fidget: a sellout crowd; spotlighted intros; swirling stars projected onto the floor; fireworks exploding from the ceiling; and Grover Washington Jr. wailing the national anthem on the tenor sax.