Do you think a professional athlete is ever happy when his playing time has been trimmed? You don’t become an athlete at that level without having a fierce competitive nature.
Evan Turner, the 76ers second year swingman, is sort of in that position now. Heading into last night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Turner had averaged just over 17 minutes in the previous three games. In the team’s blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, Turner played 22 minutes and 32 seconds, but that included 12 in the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of reach. Sort of meaningless minutes, they were.
“I don’t think that,” responded coach Doug Collins when asked if Turner is slumping right now. “I think what happens sometimes is we get caught with teams, and it’s hard for me to take Dre (Andre Iguodala) off the floor if he’s playing against one of the (opposition’s) key guys. A lot of times he gets matched up with a guy, and I want him to stay on that guy until the other coach rests (the key player) as well. And sometimes what ends up happening is Evan might not get in until the last minute or two of the third quarter or the last minute or two of the first quarter. Sometimes we get caught a little bit like that. I like Jodie out on the court with certain guys because he gives us a lot of space out on the floor and energy with his shooting. A lot of times it gets caught up like that, so I think it’s more of that than anything else.
“That’s what this season is all about. Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to get their minutes. I wouldn’t want anybody on my team that was happy sitting over there on the bench. I want them to all be out there. But there are certain nights where the minutes don’t get there. But the one thing I’ve learned is that you always manage ahead. If you manage behind you’re dealing with crisis. If you manage ahead you’re dealing with people before they get down like that. I’m always talking with our guys, whether via text or face-to-face. I understand the nuances of this game. I’ve been around it for 40 years. I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to surprise me.”
When asked about his cut-back minutes, Turner said: “There’s a recession, baby. We’re like the stock market with playing time.” Then more seriously, Turner said: “I don’t know. It’s just one of those situations, and we have to do what’s best for the team and certain situations coach tries to do what’s best out there, and that’s it.
“You just have to move on with each game. We have so many games coming up. It is how it is. You just have to be professional about it. You have to just be prepared. That’s pretty much what I took from Noc (teammate Andres Nocioni) - you’ve just got to be prepared when your number’s called. Last year it happened to him a few times, but he was always ready. That’s what you have to do.”