The principal performers in the Washington Bullets Dandridge and Hayes Extravaganza hope to violate a show-business tenet tonight and close their act on the road.
"I don't want to come home and play Philadelphia again," said Bob Dandridge, who has teamed with Elvin Hayes to dazzle Washington basketball fans and gave their team a commanding 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference Champion.
"We made a mistake against San Antonio in the last series," Dandridge said. "We had them down, 3-1, just like we have Philly and we relaxed too much, figuring we could knock them off at home the next game.
"We wound up being right but they scared us.We didn't get ahead of them (in the sixth game) to the very end. I don't think it would be smart to do the same against Philly."
Hayes and Dandridge could receive some additional help for this 8:05 p.m. showdown WDCA-TV-20, WTOP-Radio-1500. Center Wes Unseld, sidelined since the opening game with a sprained ankle, worked out for the first time since the injury yesterday and indicated he may try to play.
"I'd like to give it a try," said Unseld. "But it depends on how it feels. I worked on it hard today and now we will have to see how it feels when I get up.
"My ankle still isn't good and I have to decide whether playing now will risk hurting it too much and putting me out longer. That's the major handup in my mind."
Unseld will receive an early morning treatment before arriving here this afternoon. But even if he decides he can play, Coach Dick Motta says he will start Mitch Kupchak.
"It will be great to have Wes available for spot duty," said Motta. "If he gets in there and plays well, then I can go with him. But things are so iffy now, it's hard to say what's going to happen."
So Motta and Bullets are going about preparing for the 76ers figuring "any help Wes gives us is a bonus," according to the coach.
"Otherwise," he said, "things haven't changed. We had them on the ropes but they are going to be tough to knock out. We need big games from a lot of people, especially Elvin and Bobby."
Like Dandridge, Hayes realizes that "letting a team like Philly win one game at this point could be dangerous. This isn't like San Antonio. Things are tight now. We can sense the kill and I think we want to put them away."
Mitta experts Philadelphia to "be very physical and turn this into a knockdown, rugged game. That's how they acted for a game two and now they are even more desperate, so why shouldn't they try the same thing?"
If the 76ers do revert to a more physical style, it will put even more pressure on Dandridge and Hayes, who Motta feels eventually "will go down in the history of this league as maybe the best forward combination anyone has had."
In the first four games, they have combined for an average of 50.6 points, seven assists and 22 rebounds while outplaying their Philadelphia counterparts, Julius Erving and George McGinnis, and making almost every big basket, pass or bloc the Bullets needed to win.
"They've put on some kind of show," said Motta, "I wouldn't want to play against them. And the tougher it gets, the more we rely on them to get us the big points.
"They complement each other so well. Elvin had been doing it inside and Bobby outside. You couldn't ask either to do any more."
During the most of the regular season, Hayes and Dandridge did most of their scoring inside, usually after getting the ball in the low post. But in this series, Dandridge has moved to the perimeter, turning the middle over to Hayes while trying to keep Erving as far away from the basket as possible.
"We haven't called Bobby's low-post play once the entire series," said Motta. "We want him working from the corners and the top of the key. That way. Erving can't hit the boards as well and start a quick break.
"To help out, we've emphasized some new parts of our offense just for this round. They've been in the offense but we haven't used them that much. Bobby's executed them beautifully."
Dandridge has like his new role so much that he says this playoff series "is the msot enjoyable of my career.It's geven me a chance to display some versatility. Instead of posting everyone, I've shown i can shoot from the outside and run a break, things like that."
And by making his outside shots, Dandridge has been able to open up the inside for Hayes, who has taken advantage of less double-teamming to score almost at will with his turn-around jumper.
Along with their standout play, the two veterans have formed a mutual-admiration society, given each other credit for the club's success. Motta says that is the "final indication that they've really accepted each other. This was an experiment (playing them together) when the season began, but now it's a success story, I think."
Hayes who once feared playoff basketball, has been riding an emotional high all series. he is happy and loose and team officials say they have never seen him more confident. He says he is trying to adjust his game "to whatever it takes to win, whether that means I have to score or rebound or block shots. I'm not trying to do just one thing out there." As a result, he has been the dominating figure in the round.
But the Bullets expect Philadephia to try to take away what both Hayes and Dandridge have been doing so successfully.
"Philly is like a wounded animal," said guard Kevin Grevey. "When you are hurt, you go after the other guy's strength and try to hurt them. That means going after both Bobby and Elvin."
The 76ers endured their hardest practices of the season this week, including a 90-minute workout Monday that left them panting afterwards.
Erving indicated he will do some gunning tonight.
"I can't go out and take just 16 shots and lose," he said. "I'm going to take at least 25 shots if we're gonna lose."
"The last thing we should do is help them get untracked by losing to them especially if we let then blow us out," said Motta. "There would be nothing better for the team-concept style of basketball than for us to win this series. But every time you try to take things for granted you get knocked down to size."