1974–75 Buffalo Braves season
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|1974–75 Buffalo Braves season|
|Head coach||Jack Ramsay|
|Arena||Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
Maple Leaf Gardens
|Place||Division: 2nd (Atlantic)
Conference: 3rd (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||East Semifinals
|Television||MSG Network, WBEN, CFTO|
The 1974–75 Buffalo Braves season was the fifth season for the expansion Buffalo Braves franchise in the National Basketball Association and its Atlantic Division. It was the team's third season under head coach Jack Ramsay. The team's official home arena was Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.
Despite losing three key players in Gar Heard, Jim McMillian and Ernie DiGregorio for long stretches, the Braves continued to improve. The Braves finished in 2nd place with a 49–33 record, as Bob McAdoo captured the NBA MVP Award. McAdoo led the league with 34.5 points per game, while adding 14.1 rebounds per game, which was 4th best in the league.
In the 1975 NBA Playoffs, the Braves earned the franchise's second playoff berth, this time against the Washington Bullets. The series went to seven games. However, the Braves lost game seven 115–96 on the road. After the season, the team was occupied with legal wrangling surrounding the departure of minority owner and general manager Eddie Donovan.
On August 29, 1974, the Braves purchased Dale Schlueter from the Atlanta Hawks. On September 4, 1974, Matt Guokas was traded along with a 1977 NBA Draft second round pick and a future second round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls for Bob Weiss. Bernie Harris was waived on January 20, 1975. Mike Macaluso did not return to play for the Braves and never played in the NBA again.
On March 21, Braves general manager Eddie Donovan announced that he would resign effective April 1. The resignation was controversial because there were rumors that he would return to work for his prior team, New York Knicks, but there were simultaneous rumors that the Knicks had unfairly tampered with Donovan while under contract with the Braves. Upon the announced resignation, NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy announced that the league would conduct a hearing on the matter. The transition was complicated by Donovan's 5% ownership of the Braves. Incoming commissioner, Larry O'Brien announced an amicable settlement as one of his first orders of business.
The following members of the 1974–75 Buffalo Braves were drafted during the 1974 NBA Draft. McMillen played for a year in Europe before joining the 1975–76 Buffalo Braves. He played for a team in Bologna, Italy.
|1||9||Tom McMillen||Maryland Terrapins|
|4||9 (63rd overall)||Bernie Harris||Virginia Commonwealth|
|Buffalo Braves 1974-75 roster|
An early eleven-game winning streak helped the Braves achieve a 16–4 record to start the season and a later seven-game streak took them to 31–16. Buffalo supplanted the New York Knicks as Boston's closest competitor in the Atlantic foursome with 49 wins and 33 losses. Buffalo boasted high-scoring super star Bob McAdoo, who posted a 34.5 scoring average to lead the NBA, while making more field goals than any other player. He also led in minutes played, while also ranking among the best rebounders and shot blockers in the league. McAdoo also earned 798 free throw tries, another league high, converting 81% of his attempts. The Braves lost reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Ernie DiGregorio to a knee injury that limited him to 31 games, watched former Laker Jim McMillian battle illness that caused him to miss 20 games, and also lost Gar Heard for 15 games, which dropped the team from the elite and put more of the load on their star. The Braves attendance increased by 40,000 to 467,267 in their 41 home games, but the team fell to 5th of 18 teams. The team defense improved sufficiently to create an average 2.2-point scoring margin after a slight average deficit the year before.
McMillian ranked tenth in the league in field goal percentage. Heard ranked 9th in blocks per game (1.8). Jack Marin, who played in 81 games, ranked seventh in free throw percentage (86.9%). Randy Smith, who played in all 82 regular-season games for the third consecutive season, finished fourth in assists per game (6.5). McAdoo, who also played all 82 games, led the NBA in minutes played, field goals, rebounds (ranked fourth per game), points, and points per game. Meanwhile, he ranked sixth in blocks per game, second in total free throws, and fifth in field goal percentage. This performance earned him the league MVP and first team All-NBA honors.
As he had the season before, DiGregorio had a tremendous opening night with 33 points. The Braves defeated the defending champion Boston Celtics 126–119, giving them their first win in nine games against Boston as a visitor. The Celtics had eliminated the Braves from the 1975 NBA Playoffs. DiGregorio was sidelined after six games due to knee surgery. After a 4–3 start, the Braves won eleven in a row starting with a November 3, 1974, victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Los Angeles Forum and culminating with a November 23 victory over the Phoenix Suns at home. In order to win the eighth game of the streak, the Braves had to overcome a seventeen-point deficit to earn a 111–106 victory against the Golden State Warriors. Even after losing to the Chicago Bulls on November 24, their 15–4 record was the best in the NBA.
During December, the Braves dealt with injuries to McMillan, who required an emergency appendectomy, and DiGregorio. After their great start, the Braves compiled a 6–7 month of December. On December 19, despite 49 points by McAdoo, the Braves lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. On December 28, the NBA's smallest player, Calvin Murphy scored a career-high 45 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 125–117 victory over Buffalo. By January, Heard was suffering from a knee injury. As a result, in some games, the Braves only played seven players. In a January 3 game against the Detroit Pistons, Dale Schlueter was involved in two altercations that resulted in bench-clearing brawls. In January 1975, the Braves recorded a seven-game winning streak starting with a January 10 win over the Cavaliers and ending with a January 24 victory over the New York Knicks. In the fifth game of the streak, McAdoo outscored Pete Maravich 43–40 at New Orleans.
Following an 11–4 January, the Braves struggled to a 7–7 record in February. On January 24, DiGregorio returned to the active roster following his October 29 knee cartilage injury. The March 13 victory against the Golden State Warriors established the franchise record for most wins in a season at 43, surpassing the prior season's total of 42. From March 14 to March 21, the Braves posted their season-worst four-game losing streak. Donovan announced his April 1 resignation in late March. In late March, DiGregorio was sidelined for the rest of the season. The Braves then went on a five-game winning streak from March 22 to March 29, but the team lost three of four April regular-season games.
|New York Knicks||40||42||.488||20|
Record vs. opponents
|1974-75 NBA Records|
|1974–75 game log|
October: 4–2 (Home: 3–1; Road: 1–1)
November: 12–4 (Home: 6–1; Road: 6–3)
December: 6–7 (Home: 4–2; Road: 2–5)
January: 11–4 (Home: 7–2; Road: 4–2)
February: 7–7 (Home: 4–4; Road: 3–3)
March: 8–6 (Home: 5–0; Road: 3–6)
April: 1–3 (Home: 1–1; Road: 0–2)
During the playoffs, the Braves captured home court advantage with a victory over the Washington Bullets in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but the Bullets returned the favor in game two. The home teams won the remaining games as Buffalo lost the series in seven games. DiGregorio missed the playoffs. McAdoo played 46.7 minutes per game during the playoffs and averaged 37.4 points, which both led the league. Heard averaged 11.7 points and 10.9 rebounds.
During the regular season the Bullets had been 36–5 (which was an NBA single-season record for home victories) at home, but lost both games to the Braves. The Braves then opened the series at the Capital Centre with a 113–102 victory in game 1. McAdoo was the game-high scorer with 35 and game-high rebounder with 14. The Bullets rebounded for a 120–106 victory in game 2 in Buffalo. Wes Unseld totaled 25 rebounds and Elvin Hayes added 16 as well as 34 points. Meanwhile, McAdoo, who had averaged 14.1 rebounds during the regular season only had 6. In game 3, Phil Chenier scored 18 points in the third quarter as the Bullets expanded a 53–52 lead to 81–70. Unseld had 18 rebounds and Hayes had 16 to go along with his 30 points. McAdoo had a game-high 34 and Smith added 26 in a losing effort. Before game 4, McAdoo received his hardware for his league MVP and league scoring title and responded that night with a 50-point performance as the Braves evened the series 2–2 with a 108–102 victory. Two nights later Hayes responded with 46 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, as the Bullets completed a 97–93 comeback victory to regain the series lead 3–2. In the game, the score was tied at 89 with two minutes left when Nick Weatherspoon hit a 17-foot jumper to give the Bullets the lead for good. Chenier and Hayes built the lead up to 94–89 before McMillian made two short shots to bring the Braves back within 1 point in the final minute. An Unseld offensive rebound and putback of a Hayes miss gave the Bullets crucial points in the final seconds. On the night Hayes shot 19-for 26 and McAdoo countered with 34 points. In game 6, the Braves earned a 102–96 victory as McAdoo scored 9 of his 37 points in the final five minutes. The game had 19 tie scores, with the last being at 89. In game 7, Washington jumped to a 28–13 lead after one quarter behind 14 points by Chenier. Washington expanded the lead to 42–19 before closing the first half with a 56–38 lead. On the night, Chenier had a career-high 39 points in the 115–96 victory. McAdoo had 36 for Buffalo.
|1975 playoff game log|
Second round: 3–4 (Home: 2–1; Road: 1–3)
|GP||Games played||MPG||Minutes per game||FG||Field-goals per game||FGA||Field-goals attempted per Game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||FT||Free-throws per game||FTA||Free-throws attempted per Game||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|ORPG||Offensive rebounds per game||DRPG||Defensive rebounds per game||RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game|
|SPG||Steals per game||BPG||Blocks per game||PFPG||Personal fouls per game||PPG||Points per game|
|McAdoo, BobBob McAdoo||82||43.2||13.4||26.1||0.512||7.8||9.7||0.805||3.7||10.3||14.1||2.2||1.1||2.1||3.4||34.5|
|Smith, RandyRandy Smith||82||36.6||7.4||15.4||0.484||2.9||3.6||0.8||1.2||3||4.2||6.5||1.7||0||3||17.8|
|McMillian, JimJim McMillian||62||34.4||5.6||11.2||0.499||3.1||3.7||0.84||2||4.2||6.2||2.5||1.1||0.2||2.1||14.3|
|Marin, JackJack Marin||81||26.5||4.7||10.3||0.455||2.4||2.7||0.869||1.3||3.2||4.5||1.6||0.6||0.2||2.9||11.8|
|Heard, GarGar Heard||67||32.1||4.7||12.2||0.388||1.6||2.8||0.564||2.8||7.2||9.9||2.8||1.6||1.8||3.6||11.1|
|DiGregorio, ErnieErnie DiGregorio||31||23||3.3||7.5||0.44||1.1||1.5||0.778||0.2||1.3||1.5||4.9||0.6||0||2||7.8|
|Charles, KenKen Charles||79||21.4||3||6.5||0.466||1.5||1.8||0.822||0.9||1.2||2.1||2.2||1.1||0.3||2.1||7.6|
|Winfield, LeeLee Winfield||68||18.5||2.4||4.6||0.526||0.7||1||0.721||0.7||1.2||1.9||2||0.6||0.4||1.6||5.5|
|Washington, JimJim Washington||42||16||1.8||3.9||0.475||0.5||0.9||0.553||1.4||3.3||4.7||1||0.3||0.3||1.9||4.2|
|Schlueter, DaleDale Schlueter||76||12.7||1.2||2.3||0.517||1.1||1.6||0.694||1||2.4||3.5||1.4||0.2||0.6||2.1||3.5|
|Weiss, BobBob Weiss||76||17.6||1.3||3.4||0.391||0.7||0.9||0.806||0.3||1.1||1.4||3.4||1.1||0.3||1.9||3.4|
|Ruffner, PaulPaul Ruffner||22||4.7||1||2.1||0.468||0||0.2||0.2||0.5||0.5||1||0.3||0.1||0.1||1||2|
|Harris, BernieBernie Harris||11||2.3||0.2||1||0.182||0.1||0.2||0.5||0.2||0.5||0.7||0.1||0||0.1||0||0.5|
Awards and honors
- Bob McAdoo, NBA Most Valuable Player
- Bob McAdoo, NBA Scoring Champion
- Bob McAdoo All-NBA Team (1st team)
- Bob McAdoo 1975 NBA All-Star Game
- "Jack Ramsay". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- Buffalo Braves (1970–1978)
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- "Matt Guokas". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- "Bernie Harris". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- "Mike Macaluso". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- White, Gordon S. Jr. (1975-03-21). "Donovan to Quit Braves April 1". The New York Times. p. 45. Retrieved 2010-08-07. (subscription required (. ))
- "Donovan Quits, Braves Angry". The Milwaukee Journal. 1975-03-21. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- Goldaper, Sam (1975-03-22). "Donovan Resigns; Hearing Set On Charge Knicks Tampered; Hearing Set On Donovan And Knicks". The New York Times. p. S23. Retrieved 2010-08-07. (subscription required (. ))
- Goldaper, Sam (1975-03-20). "Holzman to Stay as Coach Under Braves' Chief; Donovan to Rejoin Knicks; Holzman to Stay as Coach". The New York Times. p. 53. Retrieved 2010-08-07. (subscription required (. ))
- "Donovan dispute settled". St. Petersburg Times. 1975-07-01. Retrieved 2010-08-07.[dead link]
- "Bob Kauffman". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
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- "Buffalo Braves May Get McMillen". Tri City Herald. 1975-05-23. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
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- "1973-74 Buffalo Braves Schedule and Results". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "Winning Braves Defensive". St. Petersburg Times. 1974-12-29. Retrieved 2010-10-12.[dead link]
- "Jack Marin". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- "Randy Smith". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "Bob McAdoo". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 6 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- "Buffalo Ruins Celts Opener". Bangor Daily News. 1974-10-18. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- Peters, Gil (1974-10-19). "Ernie D., McAdoo Team To Spoil Celts Opener". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Celtics, Braves In Torrid Battle For Atlantic Title". Bangor Daily News. 1975-01-15. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Bucks End 11-game Skid". Reading Eagle. 1974-11-21. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Braves Streak Ended". Boca Raton News. 1974-11-25. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Jabbar Goggles Braves". The Times-News. 1974-12-04. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Cavaliers Survive 49-point Effort By Braves McAdoo". Tri City Herald. 1974-12-20. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Murphy Hits 45, Leads Houston Past Buffalo". Los Angeles Times. 1974-12-29. p. C4. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Braves Scalp Hawks". Gadsden Times. 1975-01-05. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Tempers Are Short In Piston Victory". The Milwaukee Journal. 1975-01-04. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "McAdoo and Buffalo End Jazz Win Streak". Los Angeles Times. 1975-01-20. p. E2. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Knee Problems Finally Bench DiGregorio For Rest Of The Year". Daily News. 1975-03-24. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Knicks discard Blazers". Chicago Tribune. 1975-03-14. p. C2. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- "Celts Victim Of Braves, Hawks Triumph". The Southeast Missourian. 1975-03-30. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- 1974-75 NBA Season Summary - Basketball-Reference.com
- "Braves Like Bullets' Floor". The Milwaukee Journal. 1975-04-11. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
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- Rogers, Thomas (1975-04-13). "Bullets Square Series With Braves; Bullets Beat Braves, Tie Series, 1-1". The New York Times. p. 215. Retrieved 2010-08-06. (subscription required (. ))
- Pike, Marvin R. (1975-04-14). "Braves' hope: the hex". The Free Lance-Star. p. 5. Retrieved 2010-08-06.[dead link]
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- "Bullets nip Braves". Chicago Tribune. 1975-04-21. p. 1, section 4. Retrieved 2010-08-06. (subscription required (. ))
- "Bullets Best Braves; Bulls Trounce Kings". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 1975-04-21. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
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