Maurice Cheeks is scrawny, quiet and unassuming. He tries to score only as a last resort.

Andrew Toney, the Philadelphia 76ers' other starting guard, has one of the strongest upper bodies among all National Basketball Association guards. He wants to score all the time.

Together, Toney and Cheeks make up one of the most effective back courts in the NBA. Even on a talented team that features Julius Erving and Moses Malone, Cheeks and Toney set the tempo.

While most teams are getting away from the point guard-shooting guard alignment, the 76ers aren't. Cheeks is a true point guard and Toney an innovative scorer who prefers to work without the ball.

"Maurice can score and Andrew can pass," said Coach Billy Cunningham, "but we are best when Maurice is handling the ball. Whatever the defense gives him is what he's going to take. He doesn't look to create offense for himself. He's our leader. He's more concerned with everyone else fitting in right."

There are times when Cheeks steps out of character. He scored 26 points Sunday in the 111-109 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the first game of the Eastern Conference championship series. Toney, still bothered by a bruised thigh, had his best game of the playoffs, making 11 of 15 shots.

Cheeks averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 assists during the regular season. But in five playoff games, a four-game sweep of the New York Knicks and the first game against the Bucks, he is averaging 19.2 points and 7.4 assists.

"Teams are going to pack it in on Moses and Doc," said Cheeks. "I'm not that good a jump shooter. They're playing the percentages and it's giving me the shot."

Toney missed one game of the Knicks series and limped through the other three, averaging only nine points. His 22 points Sunday were a welcome sign to the 76ers that he again can make it dangerous to double-team Malone. That was evident when the Bucks held Malone to 14 points, 17 below his playoff average.

When the 76ers made Toney, out of Southwestern Louisiana, their first-round draft choice in 1980, just about all he had was a jump shot. Now he's a more complete player.

"He always had the great jump shot," said Erving, "but Billy stayed on him and made sure he became as great as he could be in other areas of his game, too. Most players that good don't try to improve. They don't think they need it."

Erving did not run in practice yesterday because of an inflamed left knee, but is expected to play in Wednesday's second game of the series, at the Spectrum.

Toney averaged 12.9 points and 3.6 assists as a rookie, 16.5 points and 3.7 assists last season and 19.7 points and 4.5 assists this season.

With Toney at 6 feet 3 and Cheeks at 5-11, the 76ers have one of the smallest starting back courts in the NBA, but also one of the best.

The other top back courts are Los Angeles' Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon, San Antonio's Johnny Moore and George Gervin, Phoenix's Dennis Johnson and Walter Davis, Seattle's Gus Williams and David Thompson and Kansas City's Larry Drew and Ray Williams.

Among those tandems, only Cheeks and Toney both shot better than 50 percent. Only Dennis Johnson and Davis had fewer turnovers, no surprise because the 76ers play a high-turnover, fast-break offense. Gervin (26.2) and Moore (12.2) had the highest scoring average (38.4) and Magic Johnson and Nixon had the most assists (17.7).

"They aren't judged on how big they are or how many points they score, but on how effective they are," said Cunningham. "And they've proved they are as effective as any two guards anywhere."