Like just about every other coach in the NBA, Sixers coach Doug Collins would be more than happy for the team to be a lottery participant this summer if – and only if – he can get some type of guarantee that the draft is going to yield a player like, say, Derrick Rose.
Otherwise, you can keep the annual gathering of the league’s squalid teams that were too mediocre to qualify for the postseason.
“Unless you’ve got the first pick in the draft you better get in the playoffs,” Collins, laughing at the notion, said earlier this week. “Unless you’re got the first pick and you are getting Tim Duncan or David Robinson or one of those guys like that – a Shaq – then get in the playoffs and play. You start playing this lotto thing so you can get the 12th pick in the draft instead of the 15th? Get in the playoffs.”
Collins said that the growth that Jrue Holiday has exhibited in these playoffs – through four games the 21-year old Holiday is shooting almost 46 percent from the floor, averaging a shade under 20 points, grabbing almost six rebounds and handing out five assists – is a direct correlation between the experience he garnered in the postseason last spring more than it is to this regular season or the last.
“The playoffs are the only way your guys are going to grow,” Collins said. “They’re not going to grow playing regular-season games. They’re going to grow playing playoffs."
Collins pointed to the Sixers’ 79-74 win in Game 3 on Friday night – a game they would not have won had they not exhibited the fortitude to come back from 14 points down – and then their subsequent 89-82 win on Sunday afternoon as perfect examples of how this works.
“That’s where you are put in the crucible,” Collins continued. “All of a sudden you play a game on a Friday night, you grind it out. You come back from 14 down with nine minutes to go. Then you’ve got 36 hours and you’ve got to play that same team again and figure out another way to beat them. Pressure? If you lose that game you lose the home court advantage you just worked so hard to take away. How do you pay for something like that?
“To me it’s get into the playoffs, get your guys experience,” Collins continued. “There is nothing like playing against a team six or seven times. Now all of a sudden you see what you do, how you adjust your game, and do the things that are necessary from game-to-game to win basketball games. That experience is off the charts.”
Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.