1977–78 Washington Bullets season

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1977–78 Washington Bullets season
First NBA Championship
Head coach Dick Motta
Arena Capital Centre
Results
Record 44–38 (.537)
Place Division: 2nd (Central)
Conference: 3rd (Eastern)
Playoff finish NBA Champions

Stats @ Basketball-Reference.com
Local media
Television WDCA–TV 20
(Jim Karvellas, Gus Johnson)
Radio WTOP–AM 1500
(Frank Herzog)
< 1976–77 1978–79 >

The 1977–78 Bullets were the world champions of professional basketball, beating the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals, 4 games to 3.

The Bullets got off to a slow start in the regular season, losing 6 of their first 10 games. On January 13, the Bullets beat the defending Champion Portland Trail Blazers to improve to 24-15, capping an 18-5 run over 23 games.[1] Injuries would begin to have an effect on the team as the Bullets struggled, as they would lose 13 of their next 18 games. Hovering a few games above .500 for the rest of the season, the Bullets managed to make the playoffs with a 44-38 record.[1]

Offseason[edit]

NBA Draft[edit]

Main article: 1977 NBA Draft
Round Pick Player Nationality College/HS/Club Team
1 4 Greg Ballard (SF) (from Atlanta)  United States Oregon
1 17 Bo Ellis (F)  United States Marquette
2 39 Phil Walker (G)  United States Millersville
3 57 Steve Puidokas (from Chicago)  United States Washington State
3 61 Jerry Schellenberg  United States Wake Forest
4 83 David Reavis  United States Georgia
5 105 Bruce Parkinson  United States Purdue
6 127 Ernie Wansley  United States VPI
7 147 Calvin Brown  United States American
8 166 Pat McKinley  United States Towson State

Roster[edit]

Depth chart[edit]

Pos. Starter Bench Reserve Inactive
C Wes Unseld Joe Pace
PF Elvin Hayes Mitch Kupchak
SF Bob Dandridge Greg Ballard
SG Kevin Grevey Charles Johnson Phil Walker
PG Tom Henderson Larry Wright Phil Chenier Injured

Season standings[edit]

Central Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-San Antonio Spurs 52 30 .634 32–9 20–21 15–5
x-Washington Bullets 44 38 .537 8 29–12 15–26 14–6
x-Cleveland Cavaliers 43 39 .524 9 27–14 16–25 9–11
x-Atlanta Hawks 41 41 .500 11 29–12 12–29 8–12
New Orleans Jazz 39 43 .476 13 27–14 12–29 8–12
Houston Rockets 28 54 .341 24 21-20 7-34 6–14
# Eastern Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1 z-Philadelphia 76ers 55 27 .671
2 y-San Antonio Spurs 52 30 .634 3
3 x-Washington Bullets 44 38 .537 11
4 x-Cleveland Cavaliers 43 39 .524 12
5 x-New York Knicks 43 39 .524 12
6 x-Atlanta Hawks 41 41 .500 14
7 New Orleans Jazz 39 43 .476 16
8 Boston Celtics 32 50 .390 23
9 Houston Rockets 28 54 .341 27
10 Buffalo Braves 27 55 .329 28
11 New Jersey Nets 24 58 .293 31



Regular Season[edit]

Record vs. opponents[edit]

1977–78 NBA records
Team ATL BOS BUF CHI CLE DEN DET GSW HOU IND KCK LAL MIL NJN NOJ NYK PHI PHO POR SAS SEA WAS
Atlanta 2–2 3–1 1–3 1–3 1–3 2–2 1–3 3–1 3–1 2–1 3–1 2–2 3–1 2–2 2–2 2–2 3–1 1–3 1–3 2–1 1–3
Boston 2–2 3–1 1–3 1–3 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–2 2–1 2–2 1–2 3–1 3–1 2–2 2–2 0–4 2–2 1–3 0–4 0–4 1–3
Buffalo 1–3 1–3 3–1 1–3 1–3 1–3 0–3 3–1 1–3 1–2 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–2 3–1 1–3 0–4 1–3 1–3 1–3 1–3
Chicago 3–1 3–1 1–3 3–1 2–2 2–2 1–3 3–1 3–1 0–4 2–2 1–3 1–2 2–2 1–3 3–0 2–2 1–3 2–2 2–2 2–1
Cleveland 3–1 3–1 3–1 1–3 3–1 2–2 2–2 2–2 2–1 2–2 2–2 3–1 3–1 2–2 3–1 1–3 1–2 0–4 0–4 3–1 2–2
Denver 3–1 3–1 3–1 2–2 1–3 2–2 2–2 3–0 2–2 2–2 3–1 3–1 3–1 3–1 1–3 1–3 2–2 3–1 2–1 1–3 3–1
Detroit 2–2 3–1 3–1 2–2 2–2 2–2 2–2 3–1 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–2 3–1 3–0 0–4 0–4 2–2 1–3 1–3 1–3 2–2
Golden State 3–1 2–2 3–0 3–1 2–2 2–2 2–2 2–1 3–1 3–1 0–4 2–2 3–1 0–4 2–2 1–3 2–2 1–3 3–1 2–2 2–2
Houston 1–3 2–2 1–3 1–3 2–2 0–3 1–3 1–2 3–1 2–2 1–3 1–3 2–2 1–3 2–2 2–2 1–3 2–2 1–3 0–4 1–3
Indiana 1–3 1–2 3–1 1–3 1–2 2–2 3–1 1–3 1–3 2–2 1–3 0–4 2–2 2–2 1–3 2–2 1–3 1–3 1–3 1–3 3–1
Kansas City 1–2 2–2 2–1 4–0 2–2 2–2 3–1 1–3 2–2 2–2 2–2 0–4 2–2 2–2 0–4 1–3 0–4 0–4 0–4 1–3 2–2
Los Angeles 1–3 2–1 3–1 2–2 2–2 1–3 2–2 4–0 3–1 3–1 2–2 3–1 4–0 2–1 3–1 2–2 1–3 0–4 2–2 1–3 2–2
Milwaukee 2–2 1–3 3–1 3–1 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–2 3–1 4–0 4–0 1–3 3–1 2–1 3–1 1–2 1–3 1–3 2–2 1–3 3–1
New Jersey 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–1 1–3 1–3 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–2 2–2 0–4 1–3 0–4 1–3 0–4 2–2 0–3 0–4 2–2 2–2
New Orleans 2–2 2–2 2–2 2–2 2–2 1–3 1–3 4–0 3–1 2–2 2–2 1–2 1–2 4–0 1–3 2–2 1–3 3–1 1–3 2–2 0–4
New York 2–2 2–2 1–3 3–1 1–3 3–1 3–0 2–2 2–2 3–1 4–0 1–3 1–3 3–1 3–1 1–3 1–3 1–3 2–2 2–1 2–2
Philadelphia 2–2 4–0 3–1 1–3 3–1 3–1 4–0 3–1 2–2 2–2 3–1 2–2 2–1 4–0 2–2 3–1 2–1 2–2 3–1 3–1 2–2
Phoenix 1–3 2–2 4–0 2–2 2–1 2–2 2–2 2–2 3–1 3–1 4–0 3–1 3–1 2–2 3–1 3–1 1–2 1–3 2–2 2–2 2–2
Portland 3–1 3–1 3–1 3–1 4–0 1–3 3–1 3–1 2–2 3–1 4–0 4–0 3–1 3–1 1–3 3–0 2–2 3–1 2–2 3–1 2–1
San Antonio 3–1 4–0 3–1 2–2 4–0 1–2 2–1 1–3 3–1 3–1 4–0 2–2 2–2 4–0 3–1 2–2 1–3 2–2 2–2 2–2 2–2
Seattle 1–2 4–0 3–1 2–2 1–3 3–1 3–1 2–2 4–0 3–1 3–1 3–1 3–1 2–2 2–1 1–3 1–3 2–2 1–3 2–2 1–3
Washington 3–1 3–1 3–1 1–2 2–2 1–3 2–2 2–2 3–1 1–3 2–2 2–2 1–3 2–2 4–0 2–2 2–2 2–2 1–2 2–2 3–1

Game log[edit]

Key:      Win      Loss

Notes:

a All times are EASTERN time. (UTC–4 and UTC–5 starting October 30)

Game Officials

Game Opponent Officials
1 Detroit
2 @ New York
3 @ Indiana
4 @ Kansas City
5 Phoenix
6 @ Houston
7 @ New Orleans
8 Milwaukee Bernie Fryer and Jack Madden
9 Philadelphia
10 @ Detroit
11 Seattle Ed Middleton and John Vanak
12 New York
13 @ Kansas City
14 @ Buffalo
15 Denver
16 Houston
17 San Antonio
18 @ Milwaukee Jim Capers and Hue Hollins
19 Boston
20 @ Cleveland
21 @ Chicago
22 Cleveland
23 New Orleans
24 New Jersey
25 Golden State
26 @ Denver
27 @ Portland Joe Gushue and Bill Saar
28 @ Seattle Bernie Fryer and Earl Strom
29 @ Los Angeles
30 Atlanta
31 @ Atlanta
32 Buffalo
33 @ Philadelphia
34 Denver
35 Indiana
36 @ New Jersey
37 Kansas City
38 @ Atlanta
39 Portland Hugh Evans and Earl Strom
40 @ Buffalo
41 @ Golden State
42 @ Los Angeles
43 @ Phoenix
44 Detroit
45 Chicago
46 Los Angeles
47 @ San Antonio
48 @ Cleveland
49 @ Boston
50 @ Golden State
51 @ Seattle Don Murphy and Mel Whitworth
52 @ Phoenix
53 @ Denver
54 Buffalo
55 @ Indiana
56 New Orleans
57 Portland Jack Madden and Tommy Nunez
58 Phoenix
59 Golden State
60 @ Milwaukee Joe Gushue and Mike Mathis
61 San Antonio
62 @ Detroit
63 Houston
64 @ Houston
65 @ San Antonio
66 Seattle Jim Capers and Joe Crawford
67 @ Chicago
68 Indiana
69 Milwaukee Don Murphy and Bill Saar
70 Boston
71 @ New Orleans
72 @ New Jersey
73 Atlanta
74 New Jersey
75 Kansas City
76 @ New York
77 Cleveland
78 New York
79 Los Angeles
80 @ Boston
81 @ Philadelphia
82 Philadelphia

Player stats[edit]

Note: GP= Games played; REB= Rebounds; AST= Assists; STL = Steals; BLK = Blocks; PTS = Points; AVG = Average

Player GP REB AST STL BLK PTS AVG
Elvin Hayes 81 1075 149 96 159 1598 19.7
Bob Dandridge 75 442 287 101 44 1450 19.3
Mitch Kupchak 67 460 71 28 42 1066 15.9
Kevin Grevey 81 290 155 61 17 1253 15.5
Phil Chenier 36 102 73 36 9 509 14.1
Tom Henderson 75 193 406 93 15 857 11.4
Larry Wright 70 102 260 68 15 642 9.2
Charles Johnson 39 93 82 31 1 324 8.3
Wes Unseld 80 955 326 98 45 607 7.6
Greg Ballard 76 266 62 30 13 372 4.9
Phil Walker 40 52 54 14 5 178 4.5
Joe Pace 49 134 23 12 24 191 3.9
Total 82 4164 1948 668 386 9047 110.3

Opponents Note: G= Games; W= Wins; L= Losses; FG%= Field Goal Percentage; FT%= Free Throw Percentage; FTA%= Free Throw Attempts Percentage; AVG = Average

Opponent G W L FG% FT% FTA% AVG FG% FT% FTA% AVG
Atlanta 4 3 1 36.0 29.5 41.8 101.5 39.8 19.0 24.3 98.5
Boston 4 3 1 42.8 21.5 31.5 107.0 43.8 17.3 24.3 104.8
Buffalo 4 3 1 44.8 19.5 30.5 109.0 43.0 19.8 24.5 105.8
Chicago 3 1 2 48.3 20.0 27.0 116.7 44.7 22.0 27.0 111.3
Cleveland 4 2 2 41.5 14.5 21.5 97.5 43.8 12.8 16.8 100.3
Denver 4 1 3 44.5 18.3 27.5 107.3 46.0 16.8 22.0 108.8
Detroit 4 2 2 44.5 22.0 29.0 111.0 45.5 15.3 20.8 106.3
Golden State 4 2 2 42.8 22.3 28.8 107.8 44.3 17.5 23.0 106.0
Houston 4 3 1 39.3 26.8 32.3 105.3 42.3 17.8 20.5 102.3
Indiana 4 1 3 47.3 26.3 36.0 120.8 46.8 26.0 34.5 119.5
Kansas City 4 2 2 42.3 31.8 42.8 116.3 50.3 16.5 21.8 117.0
Los Angeles 4 2 2 47.3 20.0 30.8 114.5 49.5 19.0 24.5 118.0
Milwaukee 4 1 3 44.8 23.5 35.0 113.0 48.5 16.5 24.0 113.5
New Jersey
New Orleans
New York
Philadelphia
Phoenix
Portland
San Antonio
Seattle
Total 51 26 25

Playoffs[edit]

East First Round[edit]

As the playoffs began, the Bullets began to get healthy. They started to play solid basketball at the right time as they swept the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

(3) Washington Bullets vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks: Bullets win series 2-0

  • Game 1 @ Washington: Washington 103, Atlanta 94
  • Game 2 @ Atlanta: Washington 107, Atlanta 103 (OT)

East Conference Semifinals[edit]

In the second round, the Bullets stunned the Central Division champion San Antonio Spurs in 6 games.[1] Game 6 started out oddly as Spurs guard Mike Gale was forced to a wear an inside out Bullets uniform after losing his uniform at the airport.[1] In the 3rd period the Spurs would make a run and take a 62-61 lead when the lights went out at the Cap Centre. When the lights came back on the Bullets would come out shooting on the way to a 103-100 win.[1]

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (3) Washington Bullets: Bullets win series 4-2

  • Game 1 @ San Antonio: San Antonio 114, Washington 103
  • Game 2 @ San Antonio: Washington 121, San Antonio 117
  • Game 3 @ Washington: Washington 118, San Antonio 105
  • Game 4 @ Washington: Washington 98, San Antonio 95
  • Game 5 @ San Antonio: San Antonio 116, Washington 105
  • Game 6 @ Washington: Washington 103, San Antonio 100

East Conference Finals[edit]

In the Eastern Finals, the Bullets took a 3-1 series lead against the defending Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers. The Bullets lost Game 5 on the road and returned home to play Game 6. In the closing seconds, Wes Unseld would rebound a shot of his own miss to give the Bullets a dramatic 101-99 victory.

(1) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (3) Washington Bullets: Bullets win series 4-2

  • Game 1 @ Philadelphia: Washington 122, Philadelphia 117 (OT)
  • Game 2 @ Philadelphia: Philadelphia 110, Washington 104
  • Game 3 @ Washington: Washington 123, Philadelphia 108
  • Game 4 @ Washington: Washington 121, Philadelphia 105
  • Game 5 @ Philadelphia: Philadelphia 107, Washington 94
  • Game 6 @ Washington: Washington 101, Philadelphia 99

NBA Finals[edit]

After being swept in their previous two trips to the NBA Finals (by Milwaukee in 1971 and Golden State in 1975), the Bullets lost Game 1 on the road against the Seattle SuperSonics, and a 19-point lead vanished in the process.[1] In Game 4, the Bullets rose to the occasion beating the Sonics 120-116 to even the series at 2 games apiece. After losing Game 5 in Seattle, the Bullets kept their hopes alive with a dominating 117-82 win at the Capital Centre.[1] Game 7 returned to Seattle and the Bullets were a heavy underdog. Kevin Grevey suffered a sprained wrist above his shooting hand, and Bob Dandridge was forced to see some action at guard. Dandridge would play strongly and scored 19 points to tie with Charles Johnson, who hit a half court shot at the end of the 3rd quarter, for the team high. Wes Unseld scored 15 points while pulling down 9 rebounds as the Bullets emerged with a 105-99 victory to win their first NBA Championship.[1]

Main article: 1978 NBA Finals

(E3) Washington Bullets vs. (W4) Seattle SuperSonics: Bullets win series 4-3

  • Game 1 @ Seattle: Seattle 106, Washington 102
  • Game 2 @ Washington: Washington 106, Seattle 98
  • Game 3 @ Washington: Seattle 93, Washington 92
  • Game 4 @ Seattle: Washington 120, Seattle 116 (OT)
  • Game 5 @ Seattle: Seattle 98, Washington 94
  • Game 6 @ Washington: Washington 117, Seattle 82
  • Game 7 @ Seattle: Washington 105, Seattle 99

Game Log[edit]

Key:      Win      Loss

Notes:

a All times are EASTERN time. (UTC–3 and UTC–4 starting April 30)

Game Officials

Game Round Opponent Officials Alternate
Game 1 1978 NBA Eastern Conference First Round Atlanta
Game 2 1978 NBA Eastern Conference First Round @ Atlanta
Game 1 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-finals @ San Antonio
Game 2 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-finals @ San Antonio
Game 3 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-finals San Antonio
Game 4 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-finals San Antonio Jake O'Donnell and Ed Middleton Mike Mathis
Game 5 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-finals @ San Antonio
Game 6 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-finals San Antonio Don Murphy
Game 1 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Finals @ Philadelphia Earl Strom and Hugh Evans
Game 2 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Finals @ Philadelphia
Game 3 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Philadelphia
Game 4 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Philadelphia
Game 5 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Finals @ Philadelphia
Game 6 1978 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Philadelphia Earl Strom and John Vanak
Game 1 1978 NBA Finals @ Seattle Darell Garretson and Ed Rush
Game 2 1978 NBA Finals Seattle Joe Gushue and Jake O'Donnell
Game 3 1978 NBA Finals Seattle Earl Strom and John Vanak
Game 4 1978 NBA Finals @ Seattle Jack Madden and Don Murphy
Game 5 1978 NBA Finals @ Seattle Joe Gushue and Jake O'Donnell
Game 6 1978 NBA Finals Seattle Darell Garretson and Don Murphy
Game 7 1978 NBA Finals @ Seattle Jack Madden and Earl Strom

Playoffs player stats[edit]

Note: GP= Games played; REB= Rebounds; AST= Assists; STL = Steals; BLK = Blocks; PTS = Points; AVG = Average

Player GP REB AST STL BLK PTS AVG
Elvin Hayes 21 279 43 32 52 457 21.8
Bob Dandridge 19 123 74 30 14 402 21.1
Kevin Grevey 21 61 42 11 3 325 15.5
Charles Johnson 21 53 48 30 0 215 10.2
Mitch Kupchak 21 127 22 4 3 213 10.1
Tom Henderson 21 47 106 27 5 202 9.6
Wes Unseld 18 216 79 17 7 169 9.4
Larry Wright 21 31 67 17 2 171 8.1
Greg Ballard 19 79 18 9 3 74 3.9
Joe Pace 9 20 1 1 6 25 2.8
Phil Walker 4 2 2 0 0 6 1.5
Total 21 1038 502 178 95 2259 114.1

Opponents Note: G= Games; W= Wins; L= Losses; FG%= Field Goal Percentage; FT%= Free Throw Percentage; FTA%= Free Throw Attempts Percentage; AVG = Average

Round Opponent G W L FG% FT% FTA% AVG FG% FT% FTA% AVG
1978 NBA Eastern Conference First Round Atlanta 2 2 0 40.0 25.0 35.0 105.0 41.0 16.5 25.0 98.5
San Antonio
Philadelphia
Seattle
1978 NBA Playoffs Total 2 2 0 40.0 25.0 35.0 105.0 41.0 16.5 25.0 98.5

Awards and honors[edit]

28th NBA All-Star Game[edit]

Player Pos Conference Points Field Goals Made Field Goals Attempted Free Throws Made Free Throws Attempted Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Personal Fouls
Elvin Hayes F Eastern Conference All-Stars 2 1 7 0 0 4 0 1 0 1 4

References[edit]