Because the opponent's light shone so bright, it might be difficult to remember how fluid the 76ers offense looked in the final game of last season - a 97-91 loss at Miami in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The league's five-month lockout also has caused that memory to fade. But as the Sixers return to the practice floor on Friday afternoon in the first session of what will be a whirlwind training camp, the coaching staff has studied film of last season's offense: what worked, what didn't work, and what will work quickly and simply.

On that late April night, the Sixers combated Miami's pressure with at least a dozen backdoor cuts, each good for an easy finish at the rim.

It was exactly the style necessary for a team with streaky, sometimes shaky, outside shooting. And the team's coaching staff, led by Doug Collins, has a plan for the first week of training camp - implement the sets that work and refresh, not reprogram, their guys' minds.

This might be the trickiest training camp of a coach's career. Because there is so little time, because the overlap with free agency is scrambling most rosters, these next two weeks - for the teams without superstars to carry them to victories - will be about who works smartest.

During a typical NBA preseason, the Sixers would have 28 days and eight exhibition games to lay their foundation. This year, they'll have 17 days and two exhibition games - both against the Washington Wizards.

Usually, there is time to waste on sore bodies and tired minds. A missed session here or there, some extra sprinting to recondition bodies, a strenuous first week of camp. These are par for the course.

But this camp will be different. For this camp, missing certain guys for certain sessions with, say, a sore hamstring, is not an option. Because every minute will be spent teaching: the offensive sets that have been filtered out as effective, ironing out the defense by going live against that designed offense.

"We've figured out what would be the best offensive things we can teach that, No. 1, our guys know, and, No. 2, they did well," Collins said. "Things out of transition, things out of sets. It should trigger [in] them a quick memory, once they see it, they should pick it up quickly."

Instead of spending half the time running breakdown defensive drills, and half running breakdown offensive drills, the Sixers will simultaneously test both sides of the ball. Associate head coach Michael Curry will monitor the defense, Collins will monitor the offense.

In this way, the Sixers can improve on both sides of the ball, on the fly, in condensed time, because there isn't an hour to spare.

"We have to be very cognizant of, and I've told our guys they have to be honest and open about, how they're feeling," Collins said. "We have to make sure we're building every day."

When the coaching staff assessed the 2010-11 season, it specifically targeted the team's 3-13 start. What did it find? Two statistics that killed the Sixers: averaging more than 15 turnovers a game and allowing the opponent to shoot about 30 free throws a game. When the Sixers started winning, they understood the value of swinging the ball from side to side, forcing a defense to rotate. In those good stretches, they turned it over only 11 times a game and allowed only about 22 free throws.

"Our guys know who we are," Collins said. "We know who we are as a team. We know what we're doing when we're playing well."

This is the value of continuity: knowing what doesn't work, knowing what does.

It's why we'll likely see the Sixers start hot this season.