The word is already around the National Basketball Assocaition that the Philadelphia 76ers are awesome. Washington Coach Dick Motta clearly agrees.
"If they stay healthy, they'll win 60 games this season," Motta said.
The last teams to win 60 games in a single season were the Bullets and Celtics in the 1975-76 season.
The 76ers have made a number of changes. They moved 6-foot-11 Darryl Dawkins to center and 7-1 Caldwell Jones to forward. That gives them more rebounding and two intimidators on defense.
Then, they opened things up for Julius (DR. J) Erving by giving him a free rein to do as he pleases. In his first three seasons with the 76ers, Erving tried to just blend in. Now, he, Coach Billy Cunningham and the rest of the team realize he must be the star if the 76ers are going anywhere.
Erving appeared in the season opener at Capital Centre with a shorter haircut and without his customary knee braces. He stung the Bullets for 27 points, six steals and three assists.
The next night, against Houston, he scored 44 points, his NBA career high.
The 76ers have been explosive offensively ever since Erving joined them, but they had been losing games at the other end of the floor. With Dawkins and Jones in the game together now, they can play a scrambling defense and get away with it.
"We are also an exceptionally quick team," said Erving. "Quickness has always been a big part of our game, but this year we've channeled it in the right direction."
The Utah Jazz have one of the strangest front lines in the NBA this season. Most coaches believe you can't play with two small forwards, but the Jazz are trying to play with three by starting Adrian Dantley, Bernard King and James Hardy.Donald (Duck) Williams, former Mackin High School and Notre Dame star, will start in a guard spot alongside Pete Maravich.
Williams was drafted by the Jazz in 1978 but was cut before the start of the season. He played for Tucson in the Western Basketball League last year and signed with the Jazz as a free agent this year. In his first game, he made nine of 10 field goal attempts and he is now the Jazz's primary playmaker.
There are two all-black teams in the NBA for the first time -- the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks.
The 35 points Roger Phegley scored against the New York Knicks Saturday was surpassed only twice all of last season by other Bullets. Dandridge had 38 in one game and Hayes 36 in another.
Grevey made a three-point field goal early in the first quarter of the season opener Friday, but the distinction of having the NBA's first three-pointer goes to Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics, who made his about a half-hour earlier.