Michael Jordan’s Tooth Kept Him Without a Basket for a Half in His 1st Playoff Game

Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Sidney Moncrief got much of the credit for holding a young Michael Jordan without a field goal in the second half of the Chicago Bulls rookie’s first NBA playoff game. Moncrief, the Milwaukee Bucks five-time All-Star, who also led all scorers with 30 points in a Game 1 victory, may have gotten a little help. The assistance, however, didn’t always come in the form of a double team from Moncrief’s teammate. It came from Jordan’s mouth.

Michael Jordan wasted no time making an impact in the NBA

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan (L), forward Scottie Pippen (C), and forward Toni Kukoc watch their teammates play against the Milwaukee Bucks. | VINCENT LAFORET/AFP via Getty Images

After the Bulls made Jordan the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, he went right to work. Known for his competitive nature, Jordan played all 82 regular-season games as a rookie and guided the team to its first playoff berth in four years.

Jordan quickly made a name for himself, averaging 28.2 points in his first season. He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and made the first of his 14 All-Star appearances.

He played a key role in helping the Bulls improve by 11 wins in the standings and earning them the seventh seed in the postseason. The Bulls finished with a 38-44 record, setting them up with a first-round matchup against the second-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee finished 21 games ahead of the Bulls with a 59-23 record.

The Bulls were no match for the Bucks, who won the best-of-five series in four games.

Michael Jordan’s tooth and Sidney Moncrief kept the Bulls’ star in check in the playoff opener

Jordan got off to a good start in his first NBA postseason game, scoring 19 points in the first half as his Bulls trailed 58-54 at the break. It was in the second half when Jordan and the Bulls were held in check.

Moncrief, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, hounded Jordan full court and held him without a third-quarter point. Jordan’s lone points in the second half came on fourth-quarter free throws. He finished with 23 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Milwaukee won, 109-100.

Moncrief refused to take all the credit.

“One player is not going to stop Michael,” said Moncrief after the game, according to United Press International. “He’s too good of an offensive player. We use the team concept, always have. We can’t let him score 40 or 50 points a game.”

Jordan said there was more than the Milwaukee defense that held him down.

“I didn’t shoot well in the second half,” said Jordan. “I’m having trouble with my teeth. I have a wisdom tooth coming up with the skin on top of it. They are taking care of it tomorrow.

“It bothered me a lot. It really bothered me in the second half and it really kept me from getting into the game. I can’t remember ever going a half without a basket.”

Moncrief also took charge offensively for the Bucks

Not only was Moncrief busy shutting down Jordan, but he was also lighting it up on offense. The 6-foot-3 guard, who was in his sixth NBA season, led all scorers with 30 points. He also finished with six assists. Moncrief had been known for getting off to slow starts when the playoffs began.

“I felt the last five or six years I had not played very well in the first playoff game,” said Moncrief after the game. “So I made a concentrated effort to come out and have a positive ballgame.”

Quintin Dailey came off the bench and led the Bulls with 25 points. Bucks coach Don Nelson was OK with that if his team contained Jordan.

“He (Jordan) had 19 in the first half,” Nelson said. “It looked like the only way we were going to stop him was to double-team him early. Dailey had a great game. When you take something away, you have to give up something.”

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