Whatever nuggets of information Washington Bullets Coach Gene Shue picked up from Friday night's 102-84 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee were not for public consumption.
For one thing, there was today's Capital Centre rematch against the Bucks to think about. The Bullets may not be able to make the adjustments necessary to derail the Central Division leaders, winners of 10 straight games.
With center/forward Jeff Ruland missing Friday's game and not expected to play today, Shue acknowledged: "Right now, our offense just isn't very good."
On Friday, not very good was almost good enough. Effectively slowing down the pace, the Bullets led, fell behind and then led again early in the fourth quarter before wilting in the face of Milwaukee pressure as well as their own inability to score.
"When an offense is working, you can build up a cushion in those situations," Shue said. "When you hope to win, that's important going down the stretch, because teams are usually going to make a rush."
By the time the Bucks finished a rush that began early in the fourth quarter, they had transformed a 77-75 deficit into a 92-78 advantage. It wasn't that the Milwaukee offense was so spellbinding, but rather that Washington was performing as if petrified.
The Bullets were particularly mystified by the Bucks' strategy of trapping the ball almost as soon as it crossed the midcourt line. In addition, Milwaukee Coach Don Nelson often stationed his players directly where the Bullets' offense wanted to go.
"We just didn't handle their defenses well," said guard Jeff Malone. "They were trapping so far out on the floor, and we didn't move quick enough -- we just didn't adjust to it."
Adjustments and counter-adjustments are likely to play a big part of today's game as well as in another encounter between the teams March 18 in Milwaukee. The two games will be the teams' last meetings before the playoffs in April, when it is likely they will meet in the first round.
The cat-and-mouse nature of Washington-Milwaukee games is something both coaches feel comfortable with.
"I like that kind of situation, where you're rotating players, trying to get the proper man into the proper spot," said Shue. "Those games are fun."
"Washington and Gene Shue are great at exposing your team's weakness and continually going at it until he wins or you win," Nelson said. "If he doesn't want you to have someone out on the floor, he'll go at him until you take him out or find a way to protect him. In either case, someone is going to have to make changes."
Nelson said he was worried about a possible postseason matchup with the Bullets. "They always play us tough, I'd hate to think what they would be like if Ruland and everyone were healthy."