If Dick Motta's theory proves correct, then the Bullet's current road woes will be just so many memories by the time the NBA regular season ends in mid-April.
Motta is convinced that all his players need is to smell the friendly atmosphere of Capital Centre, where the Bullets will play nien of their last 14 games, and they will immediately turn into a menacing combination.
"When you know you are going to be in the playoffs, you are concerned at this point about being near your peak at the right time," said Motta. "You want to be reaching an upswing, where all the parts mesh together.
"I hate to say any loss is O.K., but right now winning and losing is as important as they way we perform. Monet time is coming up, when everything is on the line and we have to make sure we've got everybody's head together."
Although Motta thought the parts began meshing Sunday, even in a losing cause against Golden State, there still are a few malfunctions hurting the Bullet machine prior to Tuesday's night game at Kansas City, the team's last before returning home:
They've lost to two probable playoff teams during this road trip, Golden State and Los Angeles. Both were close decisions but successful playoff teams win close road games.
In all three road games (including the one against Milwaukee), the Bullets had a chance to salvage victories in the final seconds. Motta rationalized that a home court "would have almost guaranteed our winning each one." But he also admitted that the Bullet's tendency on the trip "to spot everybody big leads and then try to come back" isn't healthy. "I don't want my ulcer acting up," he said with a laugh.
Phil Chenier, who was playing like an All Prio prior to the trip, is going through another of his scoring slumps. He was four for 18 against the Lakers and eight for 25 against the Warriors.
The Bullets' playoff success will depend heavily on how well Chenier scores. Elvin (Mr. Consistency) Hayes will get his 20-30 points a game, but Washington must complement that with a steady production from Chenier. Otherwise, someone else is going to have to help out Hayes to counteract Chenier's inconsistencies. So far, that hasn't happened, especially on the road.
The forward spot opposite Hayes, which was vacated by Leonard Robinson, is still spotty. Leonard Gray got a chance to start Sunday in place of ailing Kevin Grevey and contributed little - just one point and two rebounds - before fouling out.
In the playoffs, the Bullets probably will face opponents with deep benches, like those of both Golden State and Los Angeles. They need contributions from more people than they've had on this road swing, particularly at the Gray-Grevey position.
Motta has another three weeks to work on these problem areas. If he can solve them he thinks he will finish in an advantegous position in the NBA Central Division race, mainly because of the remaining schedule.
"I don't like depending on anyone to help me," he said. "If we are going to finish first in the race and have a good record, we will do it on our own. No need to wait up nights for final scores that way."
The Bullets have home-and-home series left with San Antonio and Cleveland and home games only with both Atlanta dn first-place Houston. The remaining opponents include the New York Knicks (twice), the New York Nets, Philadelphia (twice), Seattle, Boston and Chicago.
The one thing Motta isn't concerned about in these finals weeks is the heavy scoring burden Hayes continues to assume.
"We aren't extending our offense or changing anything," said Motta. "We didn't lose to Golden State because he scored 47 points. If he has the shots, he should take them. That's what we want him to do."
Hayes agrees. "We've got two, three, four options on our plays," he said. "Whoever gets open is supposed to shoot. If I don't have the shots, I'll pass off.
"But I think everything is functioning O.K. We are moving and executing and we have spirit. And we didn't fold on the road like we could have in close games.
"I've got a good feelin about this team, even when we lose."