BOSTON — In the case of Larry Bird's finger, looks apparently are deceiving. The index finger on his right hand is bent, discolored and swollen to about the size of a Polish sausage. But after working out for 45 minutes Monday, Bird said the finger is fine.
Boston's team doctor, Thomas Silva, seemed more realistic, calling the finger "swollen and aggravated."
But he said it didn't look any worse after the workout than it did the day before, when Bird made only 4 of 15 shots and scored 14 points in a 115-104 loss at Philadelphia.
Silva said Sunday he would X-ray the finger to determine whether it was broken, but he said Monday no further examination was necessary. He called it a sprain.
Characteristically, Bird refused to point the finger at his finger for his substandard performance in Game 4 of this series for the Eastern Conference championship.
"My job is to play basketball, not make excuses," said Bird, who also has been limited because of floating bone chips in his right elbow. "If I was working on a construction job, I wouldn't have stayed home because of it. It didn't hamper my game any."
Bird appeared more bothered by the Celtics' attitude in Game 4. He said they didn't play with the same intensity they had in winning the first three games against the 76ers.
"We were messing around too much before the game," Bird said. "It's all right to joke and kid around, but once you go out on the court, you've got to be a little bit serious. We didn't have it like we did in the past. The guys know it. We talked about it."
Forward Cedric Maxwell admitted some of the Celtics, himself included, were already looking ahead to the championship series, presumably against the Lakers.
"I had my map to the movie stars' homes out," he said.
But Mad Max said the Celtics will be all business in Game 5 Wednesday night at Boston Garden.
"Better call in the priests because they're almost dead now," he said. "We're going to put them out of their misery Wednesday. They did some things at the end that fired us up.
"There were a lot of plays where we didn't retaliate like we should. Like when (Charles) Barkley threw the ball at me after he scored. It was like he was trying to incite a riot.
"Or when (Moses) Malone hit Kevin (McHale) in the head after he fouled him, and when Julius (Erving) rode D.J. (Dennis Johnson) into the backstop.
"To ride D.J. into the backstop like that is just absurd because he (Erving) is too good a player, too great a player, to do things like that.
"So I think we're going to have to come out in the next game and retaliate. We were trying to be nice guys, but we don't have to be humble no more."
When the Celtics had only four men on the court for the first 21 seconds of the fourth quarter, Maxwell was the man who went AWOL. He thought he had been taken out of the game between quarters.
While sitting on the bench during that time, Maxwell said he couldn't figure out why the Celtics weren't able to get any shots.
"It was, 'Damn, they must be playing good defense out there. We ain't go nobody open.' "
From the bench, Kevin McHale said he was screaming that the 76ers were playing an illegal defense because not all of them had a man.
"They were so gosh darn disoriented, they didn't know who they were guarding," he said. "It's kind of like a power play in hockey. We were shorthanded. It would have been like Wayne Gretzky getting a shorthanded goal."
For having too few players on the court, the Celtics were charged with one of their three fourth-quarter technical fouls.
After the second, Philadelphia's Andrew Toney missed the free throw. But he was giving another chance after Bird was called for obstructing the shooter.
Official Jake O'Donnell ruled that Bird was making choking noises and was walking toward the free-throw line while Toney was preparing to release the ball.
Julius Erving said he didn't hear the boos that apparently were directed at him during his 1-for-10 shooting performance in Game 3 Saturday at the Spectrum, but Bird said he heard them and was outraged.
"I don't think there's a finer person in this league than Julius Erving," he said. "He's done so much for kids and so much for these fans, and when they started booing him, it was just very tasteless."