PORTLAND, Ore. - With a game here Monday night to start the season, another one in Phoenix on Wednesday and then back-to-back games Friday and Saturday at Salt Lake City and Golden State - and all of this on the heels of a lockout - the Sixers already have enough on their plates to be concerned about.

Sixers coach Doug Collins said that normally starting the season on a West Coast road trip wouldn't be anything unusual. However, beginning it during the Christmas holiday adds a variable that Collins doesn't quite know how his team will deal with.

"I would say that if this were a normal road trip, nothing different, nothing special," Collins said last night before the Sixers opened their season against the Trail Blazers. "But you throw in the Christmas holiday and this changes things a little.

"I have a team [of players] with a lot of young children and Christmas is a unique time," Collins continued. "It's difficult because everything is rushed. One minute you're practicing, the next you're going 56 hours without seeing each other and then getting back together again. I am very respectful of families so I want these guys to have time with their families, but it's tough."

The Sixers are not the only team from the Eastern Conference that had to deal with a road trip across the Mississippi to begin the season. Chicago, which opened the season with a come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, is also out West with games scheduled for later this week against Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Reserve forward Thaddeus Young said that the Sixers are ready for the challenge and what it may bring.

"It's a little different under the circumstances, but at the end of the day it's a road trip," Young said. "It's never easy for an eastern team to come west, but everybody's got to do it. The one thing that we can't forget, and I don't think anyone will, is that it can get really bad really fast or it can get really good really fast."