Re: Game 7 of the 1974 Finals: Cowens vs Kareem
Through the first 6 games of the series Boston largely Kareem mano-o-mano with Cowens and Kareem was so dominant that he was singlehandedly keeping the Bucks in the series. In Game 6 Jabbar eviscerated the Celtics in Boston and put an exclamation point with a game-winning skyhook in OT to take the series to a decisive Game 7 in Milwaukee.
Coach Tom Heinsohn decided before the game he isn't going to let Kareem beat his team all by himself. He would double and triple Kareem as soon as he received the ball and pressure the guards to prevent the entry pass in the first place. He gambled that Kareem's teammates many of whom were very good shooters (Oscar, McGlocklin, and Dandridge...) couldn't hit enough shots.
Anyways Game 7 started with Kareem on fire as he scored 14 points in the first quarter. Boston was up 22-20 after 12 minutes. However Kareem didn't score again until midway through the third quarter and he only touched the ball three times in that 18-minute span as the Celtics hounded his guards into turnovers and blocked the entry passes. His guys just couldn't get him the ball. The game was then 65-50 and seemed hopeless. Kareem scored 12 points in the next 8 minutes and with 10 minutes left in the game it was 71-68 Boston and Cowens had 5 fouls. Bucks had all the momentum.
From that point on, the officials swallowed their whistles and Cowens' extremely physical treatment of Jabbar was overlooked. Kareem scored just 2 more points the rest of the way while Cowens and Havlicek scored a few key buckets to put the game out of reach. But anyways that's not the only place where the game was lost... The Bucks shooters couldn't hit the ocean from a lifeboat all game. Oscar ended 2-13 from the field and was a turnover machine all game. Sure he was injured but an average performance from him and the Bucks would have won this game. We don't have the turnover numbers but Boston had a 13-1 lead in steals so it's a safe bet that the differential there was enormous. And it's evident from the footage. White and Havlicek murdered Oscar.
Many newspapers (not that I necessarily believe it...) blamed the officiating for the outcome of this series. With Ritchie Powers as the head official the Bucks were 0-4 in the series. And Cowens did get away with PLENTY OF CONTACT on Kareem in the 4th quarter against a scorching-hot Kareem. That could have turned the tide easily.
Last edited by dankok8 : 02-21-2015 at 09:54 PM.