Seven of them have never been in an NBA championship series. Nor has their coach, who has spent 10 years in the league laboring to reach this pinnacle.

For these Bullets, the past few days have been euphoric. After a frustrating regular season, it's been difficult not to smile constantly and celebrate their playoff success and the excitement they have created around town.

But for four members of the team, playing in the upcoming NBA final round has a different meaning. They've gone through the pressure cooker before, put up with the nonstop interviews and tolerated the adulation and bandwagon-riding of fans.

Two of them, Charles Johnson and Bob Dandridge, have experienced the ultimate thrill of team sports. Their former clubs won the title, each beating the Bullets in four straight games.

Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld havne't been as fortunate. Both were on the 1975 team that lost to Johnson and Golden State. And Unseld suffered through the 1971 series with the Baltimore Bullets against Dandridge and the Milwaukee Bucks.

"It's been frustrating as hell," Unseld said yesterday, thinking back to those two series defeats. "But I always thought I'd get another shot, Why Maybe I'm just an optimist."

Unseld looked around the locker room and watched as the younger players talked and laughed. He shook his head.

"In 1971," he aid, "I guess we were just glad to get there. We weren't supposed to be in the finals and no one expected us to win. Looking back at it now, they were probably right.

"In 1975, they already had us wearing the championship rings before the final started. No one even thought we would lose a game. You think people are confident now This isn't anything compared to 1975."

Unseld hopes things will be different this third time around. He says he's going to do his best to make sure the younger players are properly warned.

"We've got to tend to business," he said. "We've got to keep our minds on our goal, even if it means stepping on some toes.

"Unless we have proper concentration, this is going to be hard. It was like a circus in 1975. There were too many interviews, too many TV lights. We never could practice like we should have. We can't let that happen this time."

Unseld has good reason to be taking things so seriously. He says he probably wouldn't have returned this year unless he thought the Bullets had a chance to win the title.

"I'd say the fact I thought we could take it was the major reason I didn't retire," he explained. "When we added Bobby (Dandridge) and with what we had returning, I thought we could make a run.

"Will I retire if we do win it? I haven't thought ahead that far. But I'm sure it will have an affect on what I do in the future.

"I feel good about this team. But that doesn't mean much. I felt good about 1975, too. We all did."

Bob Dandridge was only 23 in 1971, a starting forward on a Milwaukee team that was dominated by two superstars, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.

But Dandridge, as Julius Erving found out in this years' Eastern Conference final round, is a prideful man. Even then, he wanted to show the rest of the NBA he was talented enough to compete on the same level with his two more publicized teammates.

"I was the second-leading scorer in those playoffs," he said. "It was a goal of mine to contribute and I think I did."

Milwaukee, which had obtained Robertson in the off season to complement Abdul-Jabbar, was heavily favored to capture the title. The Bucks had won 14 more games than anyone else during the regular schedule and seemed ready to establish a new dynasty in the NBA.

The Bullets had won the Central Division title but were only 42-40 for the season. They weren't expected to get past Philadelphia in the first round or, later, New York in the second, but they beat each in seven games.

"We were emotionally drained by the time we got to the final," said Unseld. "We were just glowing to be that far."

And the Bucks, well, they had Abdul-Jabbar. "When he wants to play," said Dandridge, "there was no way anyone could stop him."

He wanted to play in 1971. With Abdul-Jabbar averaging 26 points, Milwaukee won all four games by lopsided margins making the Bullets only the second team in NBA history to be shut out in the championship round.

"Those Bullets were a lot like the today's 76ers," said Washington General Manager, Bob Ferry, then the club's assistant coach.

"We let Earl (Monroe) and Gus Johnson do their individual things and the rest of the starters (Jack Marin, Unseld and Kevin Loughery) complement team," said Ferry. "We weren't capable of setting it up and grinding out an offense in the playoffs."

Within two years, Monroe had been traded to New York, Loughery to Philadelphia, Marin to Houston and Johnson had been dropped. Only Unseld remained, trying for another trip to the title round while pulling the Bullets into the playoffs 10 straight years, a streak no other current NBA team can match.

It was going to be a breeze. Hadn't the Bullets won 60 games and knocked off the mighty Celtics in the playoffs? And wasn't Golden State comprised of Rick Barry and a bunch of lesser names that you had a hard time remebering?

But the 1975 final series hardly worked out as Bullet fans had imagined. The Warriors double-teamed Hayes relentlessly, substituted in waves and kept coming back, every game, to wipe out Washington leads and win.

"If we hadn't lost Jimmy Jones (to injury), it might have ben different," Hayes said. "We needed him to relieve Kevin (Porter). Without him, we weren't the same team."

Jones the former ABA star, had injured his knee in the Boston series. His absence left coach K.C. Jones without a backup to give Porter, the fiery, temperamental playmaker, any rest or to protect him from getting into foul trouble.

But whether Jones presence would have stopped the Warriors is questionable. "We were hungry, just like this current Bullet team is hungry," said Johnson, who started in the series. "We were always afraid, even when we got up, 3-0. We thought they could come back.

"If think (coach Al) Attles revolutionized pro coaching in that series. He was the first to play so many guys and so frequently.

"Now you don't even see the superstars getting as many minutes. People are using their benches better. They aren't afraid to go to reserves."

The Bullets' bench, especially Nick Weatherspoon, cooled off during the Warrior series after playing sensationally in the earlier rounds. The Washington reserves couldn't supply the same kind of depth that Attles got from the likes of Derrick Dickey, Clifford Ray, Charles Dudley, Jeff Mullins and Butch Beard.

"We were the underdogs and I think that helped," said Johnson. "When you get to the final round, pyschology is important. You have to get motivated and stay motivoted."

Only two players from that 1975 Washington team - Hayes and Unseld - will be involved in this years' final round. A third Phil Chenier, who carried so much of the offensive burden that season with Hayes is sidelined with back problems.

"We've had three different teams reach the final," said Ferry. "People don't realize what an accomplishment that is. Only three teams in this league have been to the playoffs in each of the last three years, but we've made the final three times in the last 10."

It was no accident that Ferry helped insure another trip to the playoffs this season by picking up Dandridge in the summer and Johnson in midseason off the free-agent list.

"When you have a choice between a player who has playoff experience and one who doesn't, you usually go with the playoff guy," said Ferry. "It's paid off for us so far. I just have to hope it can keep up for one more round."