The Los Angeles Lakers still plan to center most of their attention on Julius Erving when the National Basketball Association championship series resumes today at the Spectrum (WDVM-TV-9, 3:30 p.m.), but they also will be watching Maurice Cheeks.
While the Lakers were geared to stop Erving, Cheeks poured in 23 points and had 10 assists and six steals Wednesday night at the Forum as the 76ers evened the series at one game apiece.
"Cheeks knows his role," said Laker Coach Paul Westhead. "We obviously didn't expect him to shoot so much. We'll pay more attention to him in the third game."
That doesn't mean, however, that Erving will be allowed to roam free.
"We think that double teaming Julius and forcing their other guys to hit the outside shots is still our percentage play over the long haul," said Laker forward Jamall Wilkes, the man assigned to guard Erving.
"The idea behind our plan isn't just to hold Julius to 20 instead of 29 points," added Westhead. "Other guys might score the nine that he doesn't. But he's the motivator, the guy who spurs them on.
"Our game plan is, don't let the Doctor go wild. When he gets it going, he runs on his teammates, the crowd and the whole game changes."
The 76ers are expected to stay with the defensive assignments that worked Wednesday. That means Darryl Dawkins will guard Jim Chones and Caldwell Jones is assigned Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Dawkins, a foul-plagued flop in the first game when he was assigned to Abdul-Jabbar, was a dominant force in the second game. By playing outside, he pulled Abdul-Jabbar away from the basket. When he started making those 15-foot jump shots, he loosened things up inside for his teammates.
Because of that, the Lakers are contemplating a defensive switch. Westhead said they might put Abdul-Jabbar on the weak-shooting Jones and let Chones go outside on Dawkins.
"I think they'll do something different on me," said Dawkins. "I think (Abdul) Jabbar will be forced to come out and play me more because I think the coach and some of their players realize it wasn't luck that I was hitting those jump shots. When I get the ball at the top of the key the defender doesn't know if I'm going to shoot or drive."
By gaining a split in the first two games in Los Angeles, the 76ers eliminated the Lakers' home-court advantage in the series. The fourth game also will be at the Spectrum, Sunday.
The Lakers have lost nine straight games in that building, dating back to 1975. They lost, 105-104, in their only regular-season visit there this season.
"We feel good coming home," said Erving. "You look at the past record of Los Angeles in Philadelphia and it's not good at all and your confidence has to be boosted.
"Of course we've never played them in a world championship playoff, though."