Bullet guard Kevin Grevey is worried about his quickness. A sore knee and sprained ankle have robbed him, he feels, of at least a half-step of speed.
Chalres Johnson thinks his problem is lack of concentration. The first thing he did yesterday was give himself "a private pep talk."
Larry Wright talks about regaining confidence. When he is relaxed and sure his shots are going in, "they usually fall."
But Wright's outside shots aren't falling during this NBA championship round. Nor are Johnson's or Grevey's. And unless that pattern changes tonight in the Kingdome, (WTOP-TV-9, 9 p.m.), Washington risks falling behind, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series against the gutsy Seattle SuperSonics.
"There aren't any mysteries to our problem right now," said Johnson. "If our guards start hitting their shots, we can win. If we don't our chances aren't good."
The Bullets will be trying to correct their outside shooting woes before what could be the largest crowd in the history of the NBA.
Seattle officials expect at least 38,000 fans for the game, the first basketball contest ever scheduled in this domed indoor stadium that serves as the home of the city's baseball, football and soccer franchises.
The Sonics will play their home games in the Kingdome next year. This season, they used the Seattle Coliseum, where they have won their last 21 straight. But that facility is being used this week by a mobile home show.
So the club has scrambled to get the Kingdome ready for tonight. The Sonics rented the Coliseum floor, borrowed clocks from the Portland Trail Blazers and put in about 1,200 floor seats. The court will be laid out across the baseball diamond in what also serves as one of the football end zones.
About 32,000 good seats, priced at $5-11, have been sold. The final size of the crowd will be determined by how many of the $3 distant-viewing seats are purchased. Sime 13,000 were available.
The Seattle faithful will be saluting the Sonics dramatic 93-92 victory over Washington Sunday in Capital Center, which put them in position to win the series by sweeping a tonight's game and game four scheduled for the Coliseum Friday night.
To pull out the series, the Bullets have to win three of the last four games including at least two of the three here, a task Charles Johnson says "isn't impossible but very difficult." The Sonics say it will be impossible the way Washington's offensive is malfunctioning.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we won't be going back to Washington any more," said Sonic forward John Johnson, who then explained his reasoning.
"They are not going to beat us with two guys," he said. "We know Bobby Dandridge and Elvin Hayes are going to score, but someone else better do it, too. Now all the pressure is on them."
Dandridge and Hayes combined for 50 points Sunday. But only six of those came in the fourth quarter, when Seattle collapsed into a sagging zone and cut off almost every inside pass. The Sonics gave up open perimeter jump shots, but the Bullet guards could sink only one outside shot in the final 12 minutes and just three out of 36 from 12 feet and beyond for the game.
"This hasn't happened all season," said Grevey, who is in a deeper slump than any of his backcourt mates. "Usually when I'm cold in a game, C.J. or Larry has been hot. Now all of us are missing the same time."
Until this series, at least one Bullet guard has been outstanding in each of the playoff rounds. Grevey had 41 points in the second Atlanta game, Johnson scored at least 17 points in four San Antonio contests and Wright-outplayed Lloyd Free in the Philadelphia go-round.
Although Tom Henderson has been effective against Seattle through the first three games, he scores most of his points on layups and foul shots. He doesn't shoot enough from the outside to relieve the pressure on the inside players, which Dandridge says is growing worse every game.
'I just have to hope we can hit some outside shots," he said. "All they are doing now is sagging on us and making impossible to get the ball. We've got to give them a different look."
Dandridge claims the Bullets have run only three or four plays all series, which Coach Dick Motta disputes. Motta says the Bullet offensive execution "has been okay since game one, but we can't do much when we can't hit open 15-footers."
Grevey is having the most problems. He scored 27 points in the opener, but sprained an ankle in the final minutes. A month-long strain in his right knee since has worsened and fluid was drained off it before Sunday's game.
In the last two contests, he has made two of 10 shots (while scoring five points) and one of 14 (12 points). He admits he is rushing his attempts and that the defense of Dennis Johnson is bothering him.
"I've lost some quickness," he said. "That's no excuse and I'm not using it as one. I've had to fight injuries all year and I'm tired of talking about them. I'm just not playing ver well.
Charles Johnson, who is eight of 25 in the series, says the answer "is to work harder than we are. If they want to cut off the inside, we have to keep shooting, but we have to start making the shots. We couldn't ask for better shots. It's up to each of us to put in some extra practice time and think about what's happening on our own. We've got to concentrate more."
Wright, who is three for 15, is hesitating badly on his favorite shot, a 15 foot pull-up jumper. Almost every shot is hitting the front rim and bouncing away, but he says he just has to "get my rhythem back and keep putting them up. They have to start falling."
Motta could see the trend forming in game two, when he got only five baskets from his three shooting guards. Henderson's 20 points were enough to pull the Bullets through then, but he slumped to a six-for-18 effort Sunday.
Seattle also made some offensive adjustments that bothered the Bullets. Instead of relying on their guards to carry the scoring, the Sonics successfully worked the ball inside for the first time in the series. The result was 20 points from Marvin Webster and 17 from rookie Jack Sikma and the team's best scoring balance so far.
"You've got to admire them," said Motta. "They won the game they had to in Washington. They're played well under pressure and they've kept their poise.
"Certainly our task is hard. You just don't win two out of three on somebody else's home court that often. But we have to be confident about our ability. If we play right, we are tough to beat. Not all of our cylinders are functioning now. That's what's killing us."