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"I'm satisfied, but not completely," Haywood said of his semitriumphant return to the NBA, where he played for 10 seasons for the Sonics, Knicks, Jazz and Lakers after a remarkable ABA career. "I'm reintroducing myself to everyone who had forgotten about Spencer Haywood and what he could do, but I know I can play better and I will play better.
"This means a lot to me. I've forsaken my family during the playoffs. My wife [leading fashion model Iman] would come down from New York at least two times a week during the regular season, but I don't allow anyone to see me now. It's bad, but I need to be hungry, starving and aggressive."
The Bullets hung tough for three quarters before the Celtics won Game 1, 109-91, in Boston Garden. As the second game, also in Boston, began, some Celtics were waving four fingers—signifying four straight wins—at the Bullets' bench. But despite controlling the game most of the way, the Celtics found themselves ahead by a mere two points, Washington's ball, with 10 seconds to play.
Enter rookie Guard Johnson. Moving behind a double screen from Beef Brothers Rick Mahorn (6'10", 235 pounds) and Ruland (6'11", 240) Johnson canned a 29-foot three-point shot with three seconds left to give the Bullets a 103-102 victory. Disdaining a try for a two-point bucket and overtime, Shue had expressly ordered the three-pointer.
"They have a right to be confident, winning a game on our home court, but we'll see what happens today," said Archibald before Game 3. What mainly happened was 15 blocked shots by the Celtics, six by Center Robert Parish, who also scored 25 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and so frustrated the Bullets that Mahorn was ejected for throwing a ball at Henderson's head, and Ruland looked ready to take on the entire Celtics' team to stop the taunts of rookie Charles Bradley. Final score: Celtics 92-83.
Even though Washington led much of the way in Game 4—indeed, Haywood missed a makable 10-footer that could have won it in the last second—Parish delivered more of the same: 28 points and 15 rebounds. In overtime Kevin McHale took over, scoring six points, making a steal and blocking a three-point try by Kevin Grevey.
After the game McHale expressed relief. "If we win this series, I'll give great praise to the Bullets for pushing us to our limits," he said. "Last year Chicago wasn't a test and we got into a struggle with Philly in seven games. Now we know what we have to do to win. That's what you want out of your first series."