When Doug Collins said a few days ago that he was looking to get Andres Nocioni and Tony Battie some more playing time as the season was winding down, I thought he was doing the good guy thing. Both the vets have struggled for playing time, particularly lately, but have been solid teammates even though they've been doing it mostly from the bench.
Collins is a man who cares about a person's feelings, especially when it comes to his players. I thought the Battie Nocioni thing was part of a nice gesture. Instead, it proved that Collins cares more about winning than feelings.
Rookie Evan Turner has seemed to have lost some of his coach's trust and that is not a good thing going into the playoffs. With Nocioni, Collins knows he will get toughness, playoff experience. And in Battie he has a big man who can defend, hit open jumpers and not allow any easy baskets, whether it be by fouling or just good defense.
The mindset of the coach seems to have shifted slightly recently. Where he was a master of encouragement before and willing to ease his players through their mistakes, now he is taking no prisoners. He smells the playoffs right around the corner. He wants to have the best rotation working when the postseason begins. Even if it means the No. 2 pick in the draft is best suited as mostly an observer on the sideline.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Turner won't see any minutes from here on out, and there could be nights when matchups afford him to play many minutes. But it appears now that if push came to shove, Collins might rather have Nocioni out there in a street fight - which the playoffs certainly are.
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