It had been one full week since the Basketball Association of America had completed its second season of play, Coach John “Honey” Russell’s Boston Celtics comfortably settled into the No. 3 position in the Eastern Division earning them their very first spot in the Association’s post-season championship chase.
The playoff format utilized by the league at the time had been adopted from professional ice hockey – and bears little resemblance to post-season processes of American pro sports for over half a century.
The East and West first place finishers faced off in the FIRST Round in a best-of-seven series, the winner advancing to what we now call The Finals.
The East runner-up would go two-out-of-three with the West second-place team; likewise the third-place finishers face off in a mini-series … those winners then play another best-of-three to advance to the seven-game championship series.
The standings reveal that all four West squads posted better records than any Eastern team that season, with a three-way deadlock for second place – a pair of play-in games seeded the champion-to-be Baltimore Bullets No. 2 and the Chicago Stags No. 3 while eliminating the Washington Capitols (coached by a 30-year-old Arnold Jacob Auerbach).
By the time that tie had been broken and the Celtics had been paired with the Stags (whom they’d defeated in their final regular-season game), Boston had been idle for ten days.
Lewiston (ME) Daily Sun, 3/29/48
The Celts re-grouped enough to even the series three nights later, that game also staged in Beantown for some reason (likely arena availability, given the time frame).
But two nights later – and again in Boston ??? – Max Zavlosky’s 31-point outburst put an end to the initial playoff run of Walter Brown’s dynasty-to-be -- also to the tenure of Coach Russell.
Abacus Revelation for the Road
The Boston roster that season included two Ivy League guys, one a 5’11’’ rookie named Saul Mariaschin (No. 4) from nearby Harvard – the same school to which that Auerbach fellow would soon be attempting (unsuccessfully, alas) to steer a certain Delaware Valley high schooler just a few years down the road.
It would take 65 years for another player from those hallowed halls in nearby Cambridge to participate in the BAA/NBA playoffs.