The Bullets 60-22 moved to Washington from Baltimore and returned to the NBA finals. Coached by former Boston defensive specialist K C Jones who was part of teams that won seven titles in his nine years playing for the Celtics, the team featured Elvin Hayes 23.0 ppg12.2 rpg, Wes Unseld 9.2 ppg 14.8 rpg and Phil Chenier 21.8 ppg and were favorites to win the title.
The Warriors 48-34 were coached by Al Attles a former player with the Warriors in Philadelphia and San Francisco and had been part of the Wilt Chamberlain led 1967 NBA championship team.
San Franciscowas led by Rick Barry 30.6 ppg 6.2 apg, Clifford Ray 10.6 rpg and Jamaal Wilkes 14.2 ppg 8.2 rpg.
With Robertson, West and Chamberlain retired thatseries featured two of the greatest players of their day in ElvinHayes and Rick Barry.
Game one was in Washington and neither team could find the range from the field as Barry led the Warriors with 24 points on 8 for 21 from the field and Phil Smith added 20 off the bench while Elvin Hayes playing all 48 minutes was 13 of 29 from the field with 29 pointsand 16 rebounds.
Wes Unseld pulled down 16 rebounds but the difference in the score was the Warriors outrebounded the Bullets 52-47 and made more free throws 35 to 26 to pull out a 101-95 win.
Game two was in the Cow Palace in San Francisco and again neither team could find the range as Golden State had a .412 field goal percentage to Washington’s .376 but the Warriors outrebounded them 58-49 and had 12 more attempts at the basket.
Jamal Wilkes was assigned to guard Hayes and held him to 3 for 15 from the field while Wes Unseldpulled down 20 rebounds and PillChenierled them with 30 pointsbut theunderdog Warriors won 96-95 behind Rick Barry’s 36 points to go up 2-0.
Game three was still in San Francisco and Hayes had a better game with 24 points, Kevin Porter added 21 and Unseld had 15 rebounds but again the Warriors controlled the boards outrebounding the Bullets 52-38 and getting eight more field goal attempts for a 109-101 win.
Rick Barry continued his outstanding play with 36 points and Jamaal Wilkes garnered ten rebounds as Golden State took a commanding three games to none lead in the series.
Back in Washington the Bullets played better and led 30-20 after the first quarter, 52-48 at the half and 73-70 at the three quarter mark and led late in the fourth quarter but a series of turnovers and missed opportunities in the final minutes of the game gave the Warriors a chance to win. With former Ohio State star Joe Roberts taking over in place of the ejected Al Attles they capitalized with a 96-95 victory to win the game and the series.
Barry got the MVP award. Washington returned to the finals in 1978 while it would take the Warriors 41 years until 2016 to get back to the Championship Series.
For Barry it would prove to be the only NBA title of his fourteen year career. He was famous for sitting out the 1967-68 season when he switched from the NBA to ABA which action played a part in challenging the basketball reserve clause and made it easier for players to change teams.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate