After Jerry Sloan retired, a bunch of folks (maybe even myself included?) lamented the end of “my way or the highway” coaches. We overlooked Doug Collins, but he’s probably on his way out soon — Collins has a way of wearing out his welcome within no time. That’s not to say he’s done a poor job this season. A master of the turnaround, Collins has the Sixers playing competitive ball every night.
Since the New Year, the Sixers are 20-11. During that time, they’ve lost only one game by double digits (a 117-103 loss to New York, on February 6). Keep in mind, the Sixers aren’t exactly brimming with All-Star talent — hell, Collins starts both Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes. Evan Turner, the 2nd pick who Philadelphia expected to become the next Brandon Roy, has played a little like Roy — the injured Roy who has no cartilage in his knee. Elton Brand was widely considered deceased last season, and neither Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young or Jru Holiday has reached his full potential. Andre Iguodala is certainly a talent, but should not be a number one option. Yet Collins has this team playing like a bunch of Jerome Wiliams’ — err, I mean Junkyard Dogs. (USA Today)
“He yells at you, he disciplines you and, at the same time, he loves you,” Holiday said. “There’s times when he’s going to get mad at you, but that’s only to make you better. He’s done that with the whole team.”
Grant Hill, who played for Collins in Detroit (which makes me sad, thinking about what Hill could have become, but I digress), warned us this summer that Collins would make the Sixers relevant again. (Philly.com)
“The Sixers are getting a coach who puts every ounce of his energy into making the team better,” said Hill. “With Doug, they’ll be prepared, they’ll be in great shape. He’s an unbelievable motivator. He’ll get them to play. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re a playoff team next year.
They are, barring an epic collapse over the season’s final 18 games. The Sixers would be the seventh seed if the playoffs started today, with a six-game lead over the Indiana Pacers and a seven-game lead over the Charlotte Bobcats. Since the Sixers are a playoff team, Doc Rivers will use tonight as preparation. (Boston Globe)
“You’re creating files that you would never create,” Rivers said. “We played Golden State and I didn’t create another file after that, because we won’t see them again. With Philly, Milwaukee, you could see again, so you have to prepare for them.”
Not that Rivers will have his full roster at his disposal. The Celtics will likely field a team of only ten healthy bodies tonight, again. Glen Davis participated in shootaround this morning, but foresees a return tomorrow at practice. Delonte West could return for Sunday’s game, like Davis should. Still, Rivers hopes for more defense.
“We’ve been bad,” Rivers said. “We just haven’t done our jobs. Each guy, we’ve been bad defensively. Point blank. No excuses, has nothing to do with the new guys. We haven’t changed our schemes, we’re just not doing it, and that’s the guys that have been here and the new guys. We just haven’t done it, we haven’t done it well.”
Doug Collins’ team does it well. Not as well as the Celtics, but Collins has instilled a sense of discipline which has Philly’s defense ranked number nine in the NBA. Collins is not one to let the inmates run the asylum. Instead, he teaches the inmates how to play, and coaches basketball’s fundamentals as well as almost anyone alive.
“He’s a coach,” Hill said. “He’s a coach even now, on TV. To this day, I still call him ‘coach.’ It’s something that’s in him. Being a TV analyst is the closest thing to it. He enjoys the teaching part, developing players, making the situation better. He loves to see growth. He takes joy in seeing Lindsey in the front office of the Chicago Bulls, in seeing Theo still playing, in seeing Aaron starting to coach [as a Sixers assistant].
“We all learned early what it takes. Doug rolls up his sleeves and teaches you how to respond, how to act in the trenches. He builds those relationships. I love Doug Collins.”
As an unbiased observer, I love Doug Collins too. There’s something about watching basketball teams play hard that really makes me happy.