George McGinnis is useless, Lloyd Free wants to start, Julius Erving wants the bench to be used more, Joe Bryant is down on Steve Mix and Doug Collins is not happy with coach Gene Shue's game plan.
That is the state of the Philadelphia 76ers, the alleged best team in basketball, as they enter game No. 5 Friday night in the National Basketball Association final playoffs.
While the Sixers are mumbling and grumbling, the harmonious Portland Trail Blazers are wearing big grins.
"Everything is cool with us," said guard Lionel Hollins.
The best-of-seven championship series between Philadelphia and Portland is tied at two games each. Friday night's game at the Spectrum here will be shown in Washington on WTOP-TV-9 at 9 p.m.
Each team has won twice on its home floor. In each instance, the visitors were unable to play anything resembling their usual game.
As bad as the 76ers looked in Tuesday's 32-point loss at Portland, they still have the advantage. It's a possible three-game series now, with two of the possible three scheduled for the Spectrum.
The sixth game will be in Portland Sunday, with the seventh, if necessary, in Philadelphia Wednesday.
The 76ers had a closed practice today, but there isn't much new Shue can come up with. His biggest task is to get his players believing in each other again, if they ever did.
Erving, the only consistent 76er so far in the series, and one who usually doesn't criticize coaches or teammates publicly, is distressed. He has started questioning some of Shue's subsititution habits.
"We've got to use our horses," Erving said. "We have a lot of depth. We have some guys who can play on the bench."
The problem is that the 76ers have some guys on the floor who can't play; namely, the slump-ridden McGinnis. McGinnis has lost his shooting tough, his confidence and just about everything except his job.
Bryant, a sledom-used forward who, in the classic 76er mold, can and will shoot from anywhere at anytime, has accused Mix, McGinnis' backup, of putting personal achievement ahead of the good of the team.
Mix sounded off after the third game of the series when he was used sparingly.
"In the finals, you should be playing the game the way it's supposed to be played instead of worrying about your job," Bryant siad. "He (Mix) is a good player, but he's not good enough to run his mouth the way he does."
Collins was held to his series low (11 points) Tuesday and blames it on Shue.
"Gene said he wanted the guards to take minimal shots from the outside and I just followed orders," Collins said.
"We've got to get back to what worked for us in the first two games."
That is, basically, going to Erving and Collins, and running. In the last two games, the 76pers have looked tired and disinterested.
"If the guys starting aren't doing it, let the bomb squad try and spark something," said the free-wheeling Free. "I feel like telling him (Shue) to start me, to let me go. Maybe I can scare them a little."
If he's listening, Shue isn't talking.
"Right now, I don't plan to make any lineup changes," he said. "We'll go with what got us here."