Last season, the Washington Bullets lost four of five games to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. Tonight, the Bullets (19-13) will try to end this trend and a five-game losing streak at Richfield Colesium when they play the worst team in the NBA at 8 p.m. (WDCA-TV-20).
But there's a vast difference between the 1983-84 Bullets and the present team. And the last thing Coach Gene Shue wants is to start off 1985 with a loss to Cleveland, which has won only six of 29 games this season. Despite their overall success, the Bullets have fared poorly on the road, winning only five of 15 contests.
One of the Bullets did not make the trip to Cleveland. Forward Cliff Robinson, already bothered by tendinitis in his right knee, has a very sore right index finger. X-rays indicated it is nothing worse than a bad bruise.
"In the past, Cleveland has played us very well, but this is a new year," Shue said. "This is our first meeting, and they have a new coach (George Karl) and new players.
"I've been pleased with the way we've been playing lately and I hope we can go in there and do a good job . . . We're doing as well as I thought we'd be doing right now."
Shue is particularly happy about his back court's play in recent games. Gus Williams (20.8 points, 2.6 steals) has been his usually consistent self; Dudley Bradley, always considered a good defender, has had some fine scoring games and is fourth in the league in three-point field-goal accuracy at .406, and Jeff Malone has been scoring very well since he became a starter, averaging 21.1 points the last three games.
"The back court has been playing very comfortably together. You know," Shue said, "players don't play well all the time but right now the rhythm is there and I'd like to see it go on and on. Our guards are on a roll."
The Bullets have won three straight games mainly because the back court is shooting 52 percent from the field and contributing 50.3 points per game. All of which helps balance the inside performance of Jeff Ruland, who is averaging 19.7 points and 11.6 rebounds a game.
Roy Hinson and Phil Hubbard led the Cavaliers with 17.1 and 15.8 scoring averages, respectively, before last night's game with Detroit. Veteran guard World B. Free has reduced his scoring (15.5) to play more team-oriented ball.