Maurice Lucas of the Portland Trail Blazers and George McGinnis of the Philadelphia 76ers know each other very well.They battled in the old American Basketball Association and now they find themselves facing off again this time in the National Basketball Association championship finals.
The 76ers hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with the second game to be played tonight at the Spectrum in Philadelphia (WTOP-9 at 9 p.m.)
McGinnis is in the worst slump of his professional career and admits he has lost much of his confidence. But never the less his match-up with Lucas is a very important key to the series.
McGinnis played only 22 minutes in the first game Sunday, a 107-101 Philadelphia victory. He score eights points, making only three of 12 shots from the field and had only two rebounds.
In 14 playoff games this spring, McGinnis has averaged only 14.2 points and shot 36 per cent from the field. That is down from his regular season average of 21.4 points and 46 per cent shooting.
"I feel like a rookie, McGinnis said. "I'm blind trying to find my way to the rest room. I can't explain it. Maybe it's become a mental thing. It's a hell of a feeling.
And I fed worse when I'm not playing. I can't continue like this. I could handle it better if I had been in this position before. It's not an easy feeling to go to sleep with."
Coach Gene Shue has started losing a bit of his patience waiting for McGinnis to come back to life.
"We have to have him in form," Shue said. "We can't continue to survive in the playoffs if George is not making a contribution. If Portland shuts down Doc (Julius Erving) or Doug (Collins) and with Lloyd Free injured and George isn't doing it, we'll stall.
Lucas, on the other hand, doesn't appear to have any problems. He is playing as well as he has all season.
During the regular season Lucas averaged 20.2 points and shot 47 per cent. In the playoffs, he is averaging 21.6 points and shooting 55 per cent. He had 18 points before fouling out in the first game of the championship series.
In four regular-season meetings, Lucas averaged 24.8 points and 11.8 rebounds against McGinnis and Philadelphia while McGinnis averaged 21.5 points and 8.3 rebounds.
"I can't remember a game when he really went wild against me or one where I went wild against him," Lucas said. "We've had some pretty even matchups. We play each other tough."
The 6-foot-9, 218-pound Lucas is one of the game's best intimidators.
"I have to play a physical game to be my best," he said. "So sometimes guys confront me and I have to be prepared for that. A lot of guys just don't like to be touched out there. I plan to touch them."
At 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, McGinnis has a slight size advantage over Lucas. It doesn't show, however.
Lucas is a much better outside shooter than McGinnis, but still manages to avoid being taken advantage of down low. Of course, he has Bill Walton to help him out.
Like Walton, Lucas is a vegetarian. He was a swimmer in high school and grew 6 1/2 inches in one year. It was all basketball after all.
The difference in the first game of the series appeared to be Shue's ploy of using his centers to bring the ball upcourt to help nullify Portland's fullcourt pressure.