"I made a prediction a week ago if the series went seven games, I would lean to Washington," said Jerry Colangelo, general manager of the Phoenix Suns. "When it gets down to a seventh game, the home-court advantage is not as much of a factor as in earlier play off games.
Colangelo made his comments is survey of National Basketball Association coaches and executives, asking opinions concerningtomorrow's seventh game of the championship series between the Bullets and SuperSonics in Seattle.
"Lean" was the strongest feeling expressed by any of the seven coaches and executives contacted. Four leaned toward the Bullets, and the other three were noncommittal.
"The Bullets are more solid after what happened Sunday," said Colangelo." Psychologically, coming off a 35-point win is nothing but a plus for them. Without taking anything away from Seattle or demeaning them - and they were a strong rebounding team this season - Washington had as much or more power up front.
"If they get the play up front the key to it will be what they get out of the backcourt. They need a good game from Charlie Johnson. Greg Ballard looks like a guy who's chomping at the bit. And, with Kevin Grevey injured, playing Bobby Dandridge at guard a tactic employed by Coach Dick Motta for the first time Sunday gives the Bullets more speed. When they have quickness is the backcourt, they've been more effective against Seattle.
"I'm just waiting for the fat lady to sing."
Here is what other NBA coaches and executives had to say:
Red Auerbach, president, Boston Celtics - "Wipe the last game off the books. If I'm talking to the players I tell Seattle we lost our cool last game, that we have to stick to our patterns, go at them if they get ahead just like we did in the past. If I'm Motta, I tell the Bullets. 'You showed me what you could do. The marbles are all up for grabs. It's who wants to win and walk around with the championship ring all summer. You can't live on the last game."
"As far as who's going to win, I don't know. I have no idea. Officiating may be a factor. Whether it's called tight or loose. The people refereeing the game will be a facet of conversation from both sides. They may tend to have some adjustments either way. That's the way I'd approach it."
Al Attles, coach, Golden State Warriors - "You talk about middle of the road - I like them both. The homecourt advantage would be in Seattle's favor. From Washington's side, they've won a game there this season. The way the Bullets rebounded Sunday, they've going to be tough. But they haven't done that all year. "There's no clear-cut favorite. If there is a favorite, Seattle has (to be) it because of the home-court advantage I'mkind of saying I like them both. It's unfortunate one had to lose. I hope their fans don't consider them losers."
"Ray Patterson, general manager, Houston Rockets - If you called me two days ago, I would have known what to say. But I don't after the Bullets put it all together (Sunday). Dandridge is a lot quicker than Grevey, and that helps the Bullets in the transition game.
"I like Washington, just because of the involvement of the bench and playing that big front line, with Dandridge in the back court. I don't know whether it's physical or psychological, or both."
Kevin Loughery, coach, New Jersey Nets, and a former Bullet guard - "The last Washington victory was very impressive. It could have a bearing. It's good for Seattle they have until Wednesday before they play again . . . the Sonics have the home-court advantage, but it's not as big in the final round.
"I liked Washington before the series started. I guess I'll stick with them. The front line is superior than Seattle's. It depends on how the guard corps plays and whether Johnson gives them a lift. Usually the front line wins games. Seattle and Phoenix have the best guard corps in the league."
Bill Fitch, coach-general manager, Cleveland Cavaliers - "If they go to a neutral court, I'd take Washington. I still might. I suppose it gets down to the home-court advantage versus the seasoned hunger of (Wes) Unseld and (Elvin) hayes. I bet (for) Washington with the guys in the office. But I bet jellybeans. Anybody who would bet money on these games should have his head examined.
"Dandridge gives them more quickness in the back court . . . the Bullets will pull through. If they don't, they will never win one. The same for Seattle. I'd feel better if I knew who was going to work (officiate) the game."
Bill Sharman, general manager, Los Angeles Lakers - "A switch like using Ballard and putting Dandridge in the back court, sometimes disrupts your thinking and defense, and Grevey's injury may be a blessing in disguise. You never know . . . I don't know if Sunday's game will make Seattle perk up and play better or rather will hurt their confidence. The question is: What kind of reaction is Seattle going to have?
"It should be a close game. The two teams are so even, I really can't pick. The team with the highest shooting percentage from the field will win because they're so evenly matched. If one shoots 46 percent and the other 45 percent the one shooting 46 percent will win."