Collins on Sixers: 'Any little change affects this team'

Collins on Sixers: 'Any little change affects this team'
February 10, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Of the many themes that have defined the season for the 76ers, change has been a constant. Coach Doug Collins has had to shuffle rotations, juggle his starting lineups and throw players into roles that they typically aren’t accustomed to.

Indeed, it’s been that type of a season for Collins and the Sixers.

And that’s just the thing. In a season that has been defined by change and quick, on-the-fly adjustments, Collins says his team doesn’t always handle those maneuvers very well.

“We have an interesting team from the standpoint that any little change affects this team,” Collins said. “Any little change -- it could be one guy in the starting lineup or whatever -- any little change affects us and knocks us out of sync. It’s just like that.”

Collins said he didn’t know why his team had such difficulty handling change, chalking it up to the personalities of the guys on the team. However, in a season where the coach has used 18 different starting lineups in 49 games, players have had plenty of opportunities to make an impact.

Still, it’s been a tough road for the Sixers.

“When there is a change everybody is affected a little differently and it’s based on personalities,” Collins said, noting that it’s not in his personality to be bothered by change.

Then again, Collins is the guy setting the lineups and pulling the strings. He also is going to figure out how to get his players to fill the voids from the players out with injuries and on Saturday night a few players stepped up. In the 87-76 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, Lavoy Allen did his best Andrew Bynum impression by pulling down a career-high 22 rebounds.

Meanwhile, new point guard Jeremy Pargo worked in the backcourt with Jrue Holiday to alleviate some of the pressure of running the offense off of the All-Star. Pargo also helped with the perimeter shooting with veteran Jason Richardson out for the season by dumping in 12 points on nine shots.

However, fixing the chasm left by Thad Young as he recovers from a hamstring injury could be tougher and one of those changes that even troubles the unflappable coach. After all, not only has Young been one of the Sixers’ most consistent performers on offense, averaging 15 points per game while shooting a team-best 52.2 percent from the field, but also he is the team’s best defender.

Typically, Collins puts Young on the opposition’s best offensive player and he has performed very well in holding down the likes of All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph this season.

It’s in the team concept that Collins can practically give a dissertation on Young’s value. Mostly that has to do with Young’s penchant for running up and down the floor with furious alacrity for 40 minutes a night. There is just no replacing an energetic, 6-foot-8 power forward who runs like a metronome.

“He’s the glue of our team,” Collins said.

However, the change the Sixers will most struggle with is adjusting to playing defense against the pick-and-roll without Young. Quite simply, there are not many players in the league with the ability to defend against the pick-and-roll as well as Thad Young and asking another player to do that is a change that anyone would struggle with.

There are ways to make the adjustment, though, Collins said.

“In pick-and-rolls, guys are going to have to do their work a little sooner. You have to sniff things out a little quicker whereas Thad might be able to come up on a pick-and-roll a little bit late yet still get out there and do what he’s supposed to do,” Collins explained. “Someone like Spencer (Hawes), Lavoy or Arnett (Moultrie) might be a little slower out there where the guy either beats you on the pick-and-roll or he splits it. Just little things like that -- guys just have to do their work a little early.

“Plus, speed covers up a lot of sins. When you have speed you can make a mistake and recover from it.”

Maybe that goes for lineup changes, too. In Saturday night’s victory over Charlotte, Collins used his third straight different starting lineup in as many games. He says he’d like to “settle in” with a set group, but who knows what’s going to happen next?

In the meantime, the Los Angeles Clippers head to the Wells Fargo Center for a game on Monday night. Though the Clippers are a team that doesn’t use the pick-and-roll as much as a lot of teams -- just 15 percent of their total offensive plays -- it’s very effective.

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