The Washington Bullets were thinking of big leads, bandwagons, intensity and championship rings yesterday. And the more they thought, the angrier they grew and the harder the collisions became in practice.
"If we had played like that on Sunday," said Coach Dick Motta after the bruising workout, "we would have won easily."
It's obvious that the Bullets, although embarrassed about blowing a 19-point lead in losing the opening game of the NBA championship series, have been stunned by the kind of reaction they've encountered since returning from Seattle Monday.
"People are saying we choked and saying, 'Here goes 1975 again'," said Guard Grevey, who watched the practice while resting his sprained ankle. "It's hard to believe some of the stuff you hear. One game in a seven-game series isn't the end of the world. Seattle had to win it a lot more than we did, because if they hadn't, we might have swept them."
The younger players, like Grevey and Tom Henderson, who were not on the 1975 team that lost in the final to Golden State, 4-0, say anything bad that happened in that series has no effect now, at least on them.
"I was in Atlanta in 1975," said Henderson. "How could the Bullets losing then bother me now? We lost Sunday because we didn't protect a lead. We didn't play all that well and we know it. We have to straighten things out next game.
"But you expect people to fall off the bandwagon. The last ones on are the first ones off. We can't let that change how we approach this game."
And Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld, the two active Bullets still left from 1975, are puzzled that, as Hayes puts it, "people don't give us more of a chance.
"If they want to talk about the past, they should go to the library. We've still got six games left."
After taking a long look yesterday at films of the first half of Sunday's game, however, the players apparently realized that they'd have to change some things in their future to make this series last beyond four games.
"We were winning by nine points when we stopped the film," said Motta. "If I didn't know the score, I would have thought we were behind by 14. The only reason we were leading was our shooting. We hit some shots we normally don't.
"Otherwise, our execution was awful, we were a half-step behind. It was just like the first San Antonio game when we lost but thought we played good. The films tell us differently."
Motta talked about intensity, hustle and rebounding to his players - elements he thought were missing in the opener - after the projector stopped.
"We didn't block a shot! we got out-rebounded on the offensive boards, 21-8, and I don't know if we picked up a loose ball," he said.
"We came out of the films shocked. We really did. That's why I'm not worried about Seattle and what they do. When the Bullets play right, no one can beat them. Half the time, we are our worst enemy.
"Like I said near the end of the season, don't give up on this team. This is a long series."
Team officials were worried going into the finals that the lack of a Julius Erving or George Gervin on the SuperSonics "might not scare my players enough," according to Motta. The atmosphere in the dressing room prior to the opening game was not as intense as before some of the last Philadelphia contests. And then the Bullets built a big lead with a lot of help from the Sonics' poor play.
"Everything worked to give us a misleading impression," said Grevey. "Dick says it came too easy too fast and he's probably right. Why shouln't we have thought we could win playing that way? Didn't we lead by 19?
"The first time we have a big lead again, you can be sure we are going to think about it. We know now they are capable of coming back. We won't be complacent anymore."
That's why Motta liked yesterday's workout so much. It was physical and aggressive - a reaction, he believes "to knowing how lousy we did some things in the opener.
"Maybe it wasn't all that pretty but we were going at it. I don't think the first game was the physical. There were some bumps but there weren't five wars going on at the same time like there should be."
The three most experienced Bullets - Unsled, Haes and Bob Dandridge - set the tempo of the practice.
Dandridge, who usually is not fond of physical contact, was racing all over the court, going after loose balls, playing rugged defense and mixing it up underneath with the stronger Greg Ballard.
"I'm not brooding about the first game," Dandridge said about his six-point effort. "It happened and it's over. I'd like to get some more opportunities on the break, so I can run Johnny Johnson more than I did. There are things I can do to get open."
Unseld pushed his sore knews hard. He once was the lead man on a fastbreak and stretched vainly for a pass thrown too far by Larry Wright.
Hayes patrolled the middle on defense, batting away balls or intimidating shooters. He ran down one of the lanes and almost every break, pulling up to take unerring short jumpers.
Grevey hopes to join his teammates for today's workout. He received two treatments on the ankle yesterday and will test it today during warmups. If it feels strong, enough he will attempt to work out.
"It feels sore, but better," he said. "But walking still isn't the same as running. That the key. I'm going to play Thursday as far as I'm concerned."