A throng of media attended the 76ers' final full practice before tonight's season opener against the much-touted Miami Heat.
The questions posed to Doug Collins, who will be directing his first game as head coach of the team that made him the first overall draft pick in 1973, mostly centered on how he expects to compete with the new "Dream Team," which boasts All-Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
"I'm excited for our guys to get out and start playing," Collins said. "It will be good to see where we are."
Although he didn't seem all that committed to naming his starting five, Collins did say: "I really don't have what I would call a first five but I think [tonight] I'll start, unless something dramatic happens, Jrue [Holiday] and 'Dre [Andre Iguodala] and [Jason] Kapono and Spencer [Hawes] and Elton [Brand]. That's the group we've sort of been going with. Kapono brings an element to that group that we need and that's making shots, and we feel like coming off the bench we have guys who will blend well with the others."
That bench will include Lou Williams, who has been the team's best player in the preseason, as the first guard off the bench, and center/forward Marreese Speights, from who Collins will get scoring but will need some defensive contribution also.
Rookie Evan Turner will not be in the starting lineup, which might disappoint many Sixers fans considering he was the second overall pick in the draft. But Turner understands that this is a learning process and not starting now, or getting huge minutes, might not be the norm in the future.
"Kapono has been shooting the ball very well and he has been making the first group better," Turner said. "Jrue, 'Dre and myself are the type of players who facilitate and need the ball. It is what it is. It's not about me, it's about the team. With this unit we won the last [preseason] game, so I can't complain."
Andre Iguodala is still nursing a sore right wrist, which again kept him out of practice yesterday. "It's getting a little better day by day, but it's taking a long time, longer than I expected. We'll see where we are [tonight]," he said. Iguodala walked through yesterday's practice, shooting occasionally with his left hand only . . . Comcast SportsNet announced that Meredith Marakovits has joined the network as a sideline reporter for all of the Sixers' home broadcasts. Marakovits covered the New York Mets and Yankees this past baseball season for ESPN 1050. Local sports fans will remember her from her days with Philadelphia's ESPN 950, for which she covered the Phillies. *