Thad Young returns to Sixers lineup vs. Knicks

Thad Young returns to Sixers lineup vs. Knicks

February 24, 2013, 6:00 pm
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NEW YORK — Riding a four-game losing streak following Saturday night’s 114-90 pasting by the Miami Heat, Sixers coach Doug Collins can use all the good new he can get.

So when forward Thad Young told the coach that he was ready to give it a go before Sunday night’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Collins got that shot of good news.

“He gives us some speed, and that’s something we desperately need,” Collins said. “[Against the Heat], we not only didn’t have any fast-break points, but we didn’t even have any attempts.”

Out for a little less than three weeks, Young suffered a Grade I strain of his left hamstring during the Feb. 4 game against the Orlando Magic at Wells Fargo Center. Without Young and his energy and grit, the Sixers went 1-5.

Fortunately for the Sixers, Young’s injury came at a point where the team had a week off during the All-Star break. At 22-31 and holding just a 1½ game advantage over the last-place Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division, Young’s absence could have sent the Sixers spiraling into the cellar of the division if the injury came at a less than advantageous time.

“He’ll give us some speed out there" Collins said. “I always get nervous about a hamstring that it could be something lingering, but he says he feels good.”

Young likely will find himself matched up against the Knicks’ top scorer Carmelo Anthony in Sunday night’s game. The last time the Sixers faced the Knicks, Anthony shot 8 for 28 from the field with Young draped all over him in the Sixers’97-80 victory.

“It feels pretty good and I’m ready to go out there and play,” Young said. “I guess it couldn’t have come for a tougher matchup. But it will be good to go out there and get a feeling for the game.”

Young averages 14.9 points with 7.4 rebounds per game and leads the team with a 52.2 percent shooting percentage. But Young’s importance to Collins and the team goes beyond the statistics. Not only does he often find himself in charge of guarding the opposition’s best scorer, but the Sixers also need Young to lead the team’s transition game and provide a low-post presence.

“He gives us some early offense and he gives us some points in the paint,” Collins explained. “Even though he’s not a post-up player, he gives that little move and he gets that shot in the paint. I think he was fifth in the league in scoring in the paint which tells you how much we need him.”

In the meantime, Young will jump back into his starting spot, though we’ll see if he clocks his regular 36 minutes per game on Sunday.

“I’ll keep my eye on him,” Collins said. “I don’t think there will four or five minutes where we’ll have to get him out or anything. But I’ll keep my eye on it. With an injury like that you don’t want him to get fatigued and then maybe strain it again.”

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