In Denver, general manager Carl Scheer will probably up his consumption of Diet Pepsi to three six-packs a day, order several cases of Maalox and watch every game standing in a runway in a corner of the arena.

"Sit down during a basketball game?" he says incredulously, "I can't stand it, I'd go nuts. If I have to sit, well, I'd rather not even go."

In Boston, John Havlicek will try to eat regularly, get a good night's sleep and avoid outside distractions - like talking at lenth to his wife, his children and especially reporters.

"If you had called me in two weeks," he said the other day. "I wouldn't have answered."

"If you had called me in two weeks," he said the other day, "I wouldn't have answered."

And so, the National Basketball Association playoffs are upon us this week, that gut-wrenching, blood-pressure-rising time of year when the world's tallest millionaires play for tipping money and a championship season.

In Washington, Mike Riordan says he he won't change anything. "i'll try to keep the same habits I've had all year. I'll also try to relax. I try not to get too psyched because it's not good to put too much pressure on yourself."

In Cleveland, Cavalier coach Bill Fitch also will try to be his usual self. "Yesh, I'm the same way the whole season," said Fitch. "Miserable."

Will you have difficulty sleeping? he is asked.

"Sleep," he said. "Nah, I solved the sleeping problem sa long time ago. I learned not to.

And back in Denver, the sound you hear in the background will be Roland (Fatty) Taylor of Washington throwing up . . . in the locker room, on the bench, in a huddle during timeout, just like Bill Russell used to do.

"Yeah," said Scheer, "Fatty's stomach is worse than mine."

So churn baby, churn, because between now and early June - repeat, early June - there will be all manner of memorable match-ups and magic moments.

Remember Jim Cleamons' layup to sink the Bullets last year; the Celtic-Sun affair; the Rick barry-Mike Riordan tussle in 1975, the Kareem skylook in overtime at Boston in 1974? And what about Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain; K.C. Jones on Jerry West, Dave Cowens on the floor, Wilis Reed limping on the court, Red Auerbach lighting up The Cigar on the bench?

How could anyone forget?

This year, the NBA playoff pool is $1.15 million, and some players have a chance to increase their bankrolls by a cool $28,000 or so.

On the old Celtics, Frank Ramsey used to call a team meeting before the start of the playoffs to remind hi teammates what was at stake.

"He'd have it figured out righ down to the last penny how much each guy would get," recalle dHowie McHugh, the long-time Celtic publicist. "He'ld tell 'em, 'I want you bums to remember you're playing for my money.Don't screw up."

Jerry West insists the money never really mattered, then or now. "It's always been secondary," he said. "The chance to play for a championship, that's all that counted.

"I know people say player are overpaid and all that, but these guys play their hearts out in the playoffs. Everybody works hard because everybody wants to win. Nobody loafs in the playoffs."

And none has any surprises.

"You do what you do all year," said Fitch, the Cavalier coach, "and the basketball is better beacuse the players really zero in on it. Let's face it, an 82-game season is tough on them.

"But in the playoffs, the games are spaced a little better. They get their second wind. They bear down on one opponent, they study the scouting reports. That's why defense is always better. By the time you hit that seventh game, there's nothing you don't know about the guy you're playing."

And, of course, there is no margin for error.

"In the regular season, you might experiment a little," added Riordan. "You might take a shot a little farther out, do something fancy. In the playoffs, it's sound, fundamental basketball. You're a little more conservative, you'll go for the better percentage shot."

And in the end, with a game, a series and a championship on the line, you also go to your Main Man - Elvin Hayes, John Havlicek, Jerry West.

"Yes, I've been asked to take that last shot almost every year," said Havlicke. "No, I don't hesitate. I don't think about it. It's something you do, because if you don't, you'll disappoint a lot of people.

"I'll take that shot any time I have the chance."