Midway through yesterday's Bullet practice session at Bowie State, Kevin Grevey collided with Mitch Kupchak and both tumbled to the floor. Every player stopped and seemed to wince.
But Grevey, his sprained ankle heavily taped, jumped up and finished the workout, the first hard test since his injury on Sunday.
"It feels great, it really loosened up the more I ran," said Grevey.
"Unless something happens overnight, he'll start," said Coach Dick Motta about Grevey's status for tonight's second game of the best-of-seven NBA championship series against the Seattle Supersonics.
Grevey's presence in the starting lineup for the 9 p.m. contest in Capital Centre (WTOP-TV-9, WTOP-Radio-1500) will be the one bright spot in what has been a dismal period since the Bullets lost the opening game after once enjoying a 19-point lead.
The players think the public and the press have panicked about their chances for the title. Elvin Hayes is concerned that he is being made a scapegoat for the loss despite scoring 21 points. And Motta has talked so much about what went wrong that he asked yesterday "if we can only discuss the future".
The future looked considerably better for the club with the way Grevey, who had 27 points in the opener, performed yesterday.
He had planned to shoot a bit and go through some drills. But he wound up scrimmaging and running at full speed without a trace of a limp.
"The more I run, the more it has to help my conditioning," he said. "I needed work on conditioning and timing. I've been off since Sunday and both things have to be hurting.
"I went at game speed and it held up. If we were playing today, I could have played."
Without Grevey, the Bullets would be missing their most consistent outsider shooter and their biggest defensive guard. The defensive aspect is especially important, since Seattle has two tall guards, Dennis Johnson and Fred Brown.
"Kevin will stay on Dennis Johnson most of the time, like in game one," said Motta. "But we might also try him a little on Fred, just to mix things up.
"Johnson likes to go low and if we put a smaller guard on him, it will be hard to stop him.
"We also might use Henderson on Brown some. It depends on when he comes in. If he plays in the first quarter, Tommy will take him. If he plays in the second, then either Larry Wright or Charles Johnson will get him."
Shutting off the Sonic guards is probably the Bullets' most important task. Although Henderson held Gus Williams to six points Sunday, reserve Brown scored 30 and he and Dennis Johnson combined for 24 of Seattle's 33 fourth-period points.
"Brown hit a lot of his points behind screens," said Motta. "We've got to try to force him away from the screens We have to go over the screens, not try to filter behind them.
"That's why we've been playing a lot of three-on-three and four-on-four in practice this week. That helps to get more aggressive against screens. "Tommy has done a particularly good job battling screens. I think he might do a nice job on Fred (Brown)."
Motta was asked if it felt strange to him that the one Sonic he was most concerned about isn't even a starter.
"It does, but in a way, this is a hell of a lesson for those kids who are sitting on the bench and fighting it," he said. "In fact, it may be good for the coaches around the league. You keep saying it doesn't matter who starts but who finsihes and Fred proves that."
Brown presents an unusal defensive problem because of his tremendous shooting range. It's a natural tendency, Charles Johnson admitted, "to relax against most guys when they are 25 or 30 feet away. But with him, you can't because he'll shoot it up.
"He can shoot, penetrate and pass. He's well-rounded, so he can hurt you in a lot of ways. If you play him too tight, he can drive by you and if you lay off of him, he'll put it up.
"You have to adjust to what he can do quickly. It means changing your defensive philosophy and not helping out as much but when you get this far in the playoffs, it's something you have to do."
Grevey thinks the best way to stop Brown "is to keep the ball away from him. Normally you want a guy to take a 30-footer but with him, that's awful dangerous.
"The team wants him to shoot. They look for him. He has as much freedom in their offense as I've ever seen. He's also tricky. He'll fake you up in the air and he's cagy around the back-board. He's tough assignment."
The Sonic figure that Brown wont't have to shoot as much - he took 30 shots in 33 minutes Sunday - as long Williams, their leading scorer, has a better game.
Likewise, the Bullets believe that if Bob Dandridge turns in one of his usual 18-to-26-point, performances, they won't have to be quite as concerned about the Sonics' backcourt production.
Dandridge has only six points in the opener, but Motta is confident "he is going to break out of this in a big way." Dandridge's pattern in the play-offs this season supports Motta's prediction. Every time he has had a low scoring game, he has rebounded with a 20-point plus performance the next time out.
"Bobby's a pro, he's been in these situations before," said Motta. "He's been so consistent during the play-offs that you know he is going to play well."
The Bullets need inside scoring from both Dandridge and Hayes, the players who have been most responsible for getting them this far in the playoffs. The club spent a lot to time in practice this week working on their inside offense, especially on ways to combat Seattle's sagging tactics, in order to free the forwards for shots.
Motta said, "Now we realize Seattle is a traditional basketball team. They have very few weaknesses, they play pure basketball. We were able to get them out of their offense and make them play one on one and they still were effective.
"But we remember on thing. They beat us from the perimeter, not inside. All they were doing was coming down and setting up a screen or picker red and let him shoo for Fred and let him shoot. I'll take a chance on getting beat from the outside every time."
The Sonic already have sold 30,000 tickets for game four in the Kingdome, a playoff record. Attendence could climb as high as 44,00, which would be an NBA single-game record . . . The Bullets were almost as aggressive in yesterday's workout as they were in Tuesday's, and Motta was more pleased by their execution.