If the first two games are an indication of what kind of season it's going to be for the Washington Bullets, their followers are in for equal doses of thrills and heartaches.
The first heartache came Saturday night in the Capital Centre home opener when the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Bullets, 126-120, in double overtime.
The Bullet problems were glaring, even though they almost won. They are slow, the only guard who can shoot a jump shot is Kevin Grevey and they don't have a bona fide, dependable star they can count on when the game is on the line.
The 76ers have such a player and he was the difference Saturday. Julius Erving scored 36 points, equaled his National Basketball Association career high with 17 rebounds (nine of them offensive) and had six assists, two steals and a blocked shot. He turned in one spectacular play after another at both ends of the floor.
The Bullets struggled through much of their opener Friday against the Detroit Pistons, the worst team in the league last season, before getting themselves together for a 10-point victory.
They are off until Thursday, when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Richfield, Ohio. They play the New Jersey Nets Friday at Capital Centre and then have a rematch with the 76ers at the Spectrum Saturday.
The Bullets' leading scorer after two games, surprisingly, is guard Kevin Porter. He has made 18 of 29 shots and is averaging 19.5 points a game. He also is the team leader in assists with 12. Porter has also played good defense and seems to have a grasp of what Coach Gene Shue wants on offense.
Porter's backup, heralded No. 1 draft choice Wes Matthews, has some interesting statistics for a 6-foot-1 guard. He has made eight of 22 shots, but is zero for 14 on any shot other than a layup or a dunk. Six of Matthews' eight field goals have come on dunks and seven of the eight have come off fast breaks.
Elvin Hayes, the Bullets' major offensive weapon, is having trouble adjusting to Shue's offense and has scored only 16 points in the two games. He shot three for 15 from the field Saturday and fouled out.
"I'll be all right," Hayes said. "I just need to learn how to get my rhythm in this new offense."
Because of the obvious shooting problems the Bullets have, both Detroit and Philadelphia pressured them on defense and kept them outside, forcing them to shoot jump shots. That is probably a strategy the Bullets will see all season.
The steadiest Bullet so far has been center Wes Unseld. He is shooting 74 percent from the field (14-19) and he has 28 rebounds in two games.