"It's like a tennis game," observed Jim McMillian, an important cog in the Braves' offense who had not been having a very good playoff. "They had first serve on their home court—the advantage—and we broke it. Then we had the advantage. And they broke it. Then they held their advantage. Now we have to hold ours and then go down there and break theirs again."
For the first half of the fourth game it appeared very much that Washington might break Buffalo again and go up 3-1 in the series. With Hayes, Chenier and Weatherspoon producing most of the points, and only McAdoo able to generate anything for Buffalo, Washington held a nine-point lead at halftime.
Later Guard Ken Charles would remember that all the Braves suddenly made up their minds that they had nothing to lose by becoming very physical in the second half.
"It looked like we were about to give them their third game," he said. "We decided it was do or die. We had to go out and play our game. We had nothing to lose by bumpin' and pushin' and runnin'. So we did.
"And then Mr. McAdoo got hot, and when Mr. McAdoo gets hot all you got to do is give him the ball and get out of the way. Nothing's easier. We could be down by 50 and if Mr. McAdoo gets hot we'll get back."
"This was a very important game," McAdoo said. "I just decided there was no way they were going to stop me. And when I am hitting my shots, I don't care how much defense they put on me. All I had to do was concentrate."
Once again, the game swung around in the third quarter. McAdoo poured in 15 points in that period, leading Buffalo to a 78-75 advantage. In the fourth he added 15 more and the Braves had evened the series with a 108-102 victory that was not as close as the score indicated. McAdoo's night consisted of 50 very good points, 21 rebounds, two steals, two blocked shots and one assist.
On the Bullets' side, Hayes suffered a kind of paralysis. He didn't take a shot in the third quarter and made only one of the four he attempted in the fourth—a breakaway dunk—before fouling out with 6:22 left to play.
"I think Elvin stopped playing when he was given his fourth personal," said McMillian, who scored 18 to end his own slump. "He didn't seem to do anything after that. He seemed afraid to pick up his fifth foul."
Hayes' paralysis was short-lived and, characteristically, the fifth game was unlike any of the preceding four. On Sunday, spurred perhaps by his non-performance of two nights previous, Hayes played like a man possessed.