Another 76ers practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, another juggling of players. New coach Doug Collins is like a mixologist, trying to find what concoctions best suit his taste.
Yesterday's first team consisted of Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Craig Brackins, with Jodie Meeks and Jason Kapono sharing a spot.
At the end-of-practice scrimmage, that group looked very good on offense, in both getting the ball to the basket and finding outside shooters for open jumpers.
"I'm just continuing to mix and match a little bit," Collins said. "It's hard for me right now because Mo Speights didn't practice with his sore hamstring and Spencer [Hawes, bad back] is getting better, but he didn't practice. Jodie was in there subbing with 'Kap' because I'm trying to have a shooter in there with that group. I'm just sort of seeing how that goes. Again, our guys played hard today, they had a lot of energy and that's very, very encouraging. Their effort has been fantastic."
But effort alone won't be enough. Collins has been hindered with injuries and, quite frankly, players who haven't performed to his expectations. So until all that comes together, each practice session turns into a let's-try-this-lineup.
As good as the first unit looked offensively at the end of practice, you had to wonder how it would defend against an opponent not wearing the same emblem on the front of the jersey.
"You might have to give up something to get something that you need," Collins said. "One thing we can't do is we can't go through stretches of 6 or 7 minutes where we can't score because we're not that good defensively that we're going to shut a team down. And any time we've had problems in exhibitions it's because we've had dead 6- or 8-minute periods of time. We're not going to be able to score enough points to have a dead 6 or 8 or 10 minutes. We have to figure out if the one unit that is going to start the game gives me a certain thing and the one that's coming in [is going to give another]. The bench has been really good. So I'm still trying to figure that out."
Lou Williams, the Sixers' best player during the exhibition season while coming off the bench, understands that nothing is set when it comes to when players are on the court and how many minutes they play.
"It's not a thing about starting games," Williams said. "I'm more concerned about being able to finish. I want to be one of those guys he can rely on in the fourth quarter. Maybe it's a matchup thing. Maybe we want to start bigger and finish a little quicker. I'm all for it. I'm a team guy. I'm not really worried about the individual stuff."
It's a puzzle Collins is still trying to figure out.
Doug Collins praised the play of Andre Iguodala at yesterday's practice: "I thought 'Dre' had his best practice. I thought he was very aggressive looking for some things, which helped our team" . . . The Sixers face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cincinnati tomorrow night before finishing the exhibition season on Wednesday at home against the New York Knicks.
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