The Seattle SuperSonics and Washington Bullets are the physically strongest, best rebounding teams in the National Basketball Association. Their offenses and defensive philosophies also are similar.
The basic difference between the NBA finalists is that the guards do most of the scoring for the Sonics while the forwards are the big point-producers for the Bullets.
The Bullets have an advantage in experience at every position, but the younger Sonics have grown up quickly.
Following is a rundown of the probable match-ups for their NBA championship final series which begins today at Capital Centre:
Sonics John Johnson, 6-foot-7, 29 years old versus Bullet Bob Dandridge, 6-6, 31 years old.
Johnson and Dandridge are two of the best passing forwards in the game. Dandridge also is the Bullets' top pressure player and they go to him in critical situations. Johnson does not have the offensive power Dandridge does, but he is a good defensive player and is capable of scoring if he is not guarded too closely.
Both get by as much on intelligence as athletic ability. Advantage to Dandridge.
Seattle's Lonnie Shelton, 6-8, 23 years old versus Washington's Elvin Hayes, 6-9, 33 years old.
Hayes probably is the premier player at his position in the NBA and, though Shelton is much improved, he will have trouble keeping up.
Shelton's primary function is to rebound. He is a fairly good shooter, but he is not in Hayes' class as a scorer. Shelton has a decent outside shot and good quickness, but Hayes is a better player right now. Advantage to Hayes.
Sonic Jack Sikma, 6-11, 23 years old versus Bullet Wes Unseld, 6-7, 33 years old.
Sikma has youth and height on his side, but he will have his work cut out for him against the burly Unseld.
Unseld is not asked to score much for the Bullets and most of the points he gets are from offensive rebounds. He still is a key to the offense, though, because of his passing and pick-setting.
Sikma is the Sonics' best inside scorer and they go to him often. He also is an outstanding rebounder, but rebounding is Unseld's forte and they should negate each other on the boards. There is no clear advantage to either side at this position.
Sonic Gus Williams, 6-2, 25 years old versus Bullet Tom Henderson, 6-3, 27 years old.
Williams is the Sonics' leading scorer and goes to the basket at every opportunity. His quickness could be a problem for Henderson.
Henderson's role is that of a true playmaker. His job is to get the ball to the shooters and he does not look to score much himself.
Williams has a tendency to get carried away emotionally occasionally, while Henderson is fairly steady. However, Williams is the type of player who can turn a game around; Henderson is not. Advantage to Williams.
Seattle's Dennis Johnson, 6-4, 24 years old versus Kevin Grevey of the Bullets, 6-5, 26 years old.
Johnson probably is the premier defensive guard in the NBA and also a superb offensive rebounder and versatile scorer.
Grevey generally plays well only at the offensive end of the floor. His job is to make baskets and anything else he does is gravy.
Johnson is a complete all-round player who is counted on to play well at both ends. Advantage to Johnson.
The Sonics' bench has instant offense in Fred (Downtown) Brown who has been in a slump lately. They also have one of the game's best-ever rebounders and defenders in Paul Silas.
Wally Walker has played well on occasion at forward. Dennis Awtrey is the backup center and provides plenty of muscle, but, like Silas, offers little offense.
The Bullets have guards Larry Wright and Charles Johnson waiting in the wings and also have perhaps the top reserve for either team in Greg Ballard. Until Mitch Kupchak comes back, Dave Corzine is the backup center. He is adequate enough for spot duty.
The Sonic bench has more muscle and the Bullets' more fire power. Because of Ballard and their overall versatility, the Bullets have the edge here.
Seattle's Lenny Wilkens, 41 years old, versus Washington's Dick Motta, 47 years old.
Each has a good sense of humor and each strongly believes that muscle, rebounding and defense with games.
Each has a team they say they like very much but both teams also have a tendency to leave their games at home occasionally.
The Sonics may listen to Wilkens a little more than the Bullets listen to Motta, but the Bullets probably have better overall talent and can do more things offensively.
Wilkens is a littel quicker with the hook than Motta if a player is not performing well. Both teams complain a lot to the officials, which annoys both coaches a great deal.
Coaching could be the difference in this series and both coaches say they thrive on the pressure of the final two minutes of a close game. Both also have outstanding records in the close games. There is no advantage here to either team. CAPTION: Picture 1, Bullets Bob Dandridge; Picture 2, Elvin Hayes; Picture 3, Wes Unseld; Picture 4, Tom Henderson; Picture 5, Kevin Grevey; Picture 6, Dick Motta.