76ers: The rotation

Today at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the 76ers practiced in advance of their upcoming back-to-back that includes Tuesday night's game at the New Jersey Nets and Wednesday night's game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

During the Sixers recent homestand, in which they won three of four games, Sixers coach Doug Collins repeatedly tightened his rotation to seven players, and then on Sunday against the New Orleans Hornets, he expanded it slightly, finding a few minutes for Evan Turner and Marreese Speights. Obviously, closing to a rotation of exclusively seven players this early in the season is out of the question, but it's not out of the question to nail down a set base rotation, and then expand it as necessary to include some bench players on nights when help is needed (like when you're staring at a back-to-back).

Here's what the Sixers have so far with that seven-man rotation: Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Spencer Hawes. First two subs off the bench: Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young. Next guy off the bench: Evan Turner. Contributors when rotation is expanded on a given night: Marreese Speights and Andres Nocioni, possibly Tony Battie if the big men are in foul trouble.

After today's practice, Collins talked about why he tightened his rotation during this homestand: "When you’re not winning on the road, it puts so much pressure for you to win at home. I mean, you cannot lose home games. That’s why I played it so close to the vest early in this homestand because I knew how important every one of those games were."

The Sixers have a set starting lineup that is blending nicely for them. There's no question that Lou and Thaddeus are playing great coming off the bench. Those first seven spots are on lockdown right now. The interesting question is the decision Collins faces when it comes to giving minutes to Turner, or giving minutes to Nocioni. If you're just looking at impact and stats, it seems the nod would be for Nocioni, but considering Turner's status as No. 2 pick and the need to keep him involved, those minutes will keep going to Turner.

Asked if he would lean toward giving Turner minutes over Nocioni, Collins said, "I would probably lean that way" because Nocioni is a perimeter, combo 3,4 and Collins is already getting great minutes from Thad as a combo 3,4.

"The thing about it is that probably Evan will get the first look," Collins said of each game. "If he’s not getting it done, I’ll look at Noc. It’s just hard, it’s hard to juggle those minutes."

Collins further explained the decision to not play Nocioni: "It’s hard to play six perimeter guys. The hardest thing about it is: Do you give two guys 10 minutes? And then guys aren’t happy with 10 minutes. I told Noc after the game, I said, ‘Noc, I’m sorry, Evan got 21 today and I just couldn’t get you in the game or whatever. I didn’t want to put you in the last 5 minutes of the game.’ This guy is a seasoned pro, I’m not running him into a 20-point game with 5 minutes to go."

Added Collins: "The ideal rotation is eight guys and a specialist. You have two on the perimeter and then you’re rotating three bigs and your ninth guy is either a rebounder, defender, or a guy who can come in and make shots. Everyone wants to play and I don’t blame them."

It sounds like the main issue within Collins' rotation is finding that third big man to rotate. Right now, he's coming in the occasional form of Speights, but it doesn't seem Collins is convinced that he's a permanent solution. As we all know, Collins has that overload of guards/swingman/tweeners and that's where Nocioni falls, explaining Nocioni's recent lack of playing time.

You can check out the video embedded below from today's practice and Collins' availability. And if you'd like to follow on Twitter for all pertinent Tweets and links, click here: Deep Sixer.

More tomorrow from New Jersey,


Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at kfagan@phillynews.com.

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