Celtics May Be in Championship Series by Sunday Night

Times Staff Writer

Unless some drastic changes occur soon, both the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks will have a lot of time on their hands beginning Sunday night.

Two games into the NBA's Eastern Conference final series, the Bucks are two losses away from elimination, and the Celtics two wins away from what figures to be another weeklong waiting period before the start of the championship series.

Game 3 of a series so far devoid of surprises will be played today (Channel 2, 11 a.m. PDT) at the Milwaukee Arena, and many are convinced that only the venue will be different, not the outcome.

The confident Celtics, who routed the Bucks by 32 points in Game 1, then handled them by 11 in Game 2 at Boston Garden, are in a position to sweep. To do it, they need to win today and Sunday afternoon. That would give the Celtics a sweep not just of the series but of the season as well. The Celtics have beaten the Bucks in all seven of their 1985-86 games.

"We don't care about a sweep, we just care about winning the next two games," a contradictory Larry Bird said. "If we can win the first game at Milwaukee, then it's probably over. I can't see the Bucks coming back from 3-0."

Milwaukee star Sidney Moncrief, bothered by torn ligaments on the bottom of his left foot, played 37 minutes in Game 2 after sitting out Game 1. If Moncrief keeps to his pattern, he will rest during Game 3 and play in Game 4. But Bird believes that it is more important to the Bucks that Moncrief play in Game 3.

"I think Sidney will play Saturday because that's the most important game," he said.

After Thursday night's 122-111 loss to the Celtics at Boston Garden, Moncrief said his status was in doubt.

"Because we're down, 0-2, I don't know if it's going to have to be altered or not," Moncrief said. "What we're looking at is if I can run and be effective. If I can't, then I can't play. We'll make that decision before the game.

Coach Don Nelson of the Bucks fears that he will line up against the Celtics today without two vital members of his lineup--Moncrief and sixth man Ricky Pierce.

Pierce has a chronic left shoulder problem and missed Game 2 because of soreness. Nelson said Thursday that Pierce could not lift his arm over his head. "He won't play unless he can do that," Nelson said.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are healthy and probably ready for another self-imposed wait until the Lakers' series with Houston is over.

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