1974–75 Buffalo Braves Season - Regular Season

Regular Season

Overview

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 was able to rank 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 7th 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 4th 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.

October–November

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 an 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.

December–January

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, the Braves recorded a seven-game winning streak starting with a January 10, 1975 win over the Cavaliers and ending with a January 24, 1975 victory over the New York Knicks. In the fifth game of the streak, McAdoo outscored Pete Maravich 43–40 at New Orleans.

February–April

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 October 29 his 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 seoson's total of 42. From March 14 – 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 – March 29, but the team lost three of four April regular season games.

Read more about this topic:  1974–75 Buffalo Braves Season

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