MILWAUKEE — If 76ers coach Doug Collins were a betting man, he would put his money down that the NBA playoff schedule-makers will have his team playing Saturday in an afternoon game in Chicago.
Should his team be matched up against the Miami Heat, Collins thinks Game 1 of the first-round Eastern Conference series could be either Saturday or Sunday. But for now, his focus is on the Bulls.
After Wednesday night's 90-85 victory over the Bucks, and New York's win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sixers and Knicks are tied for seventh in the Eastern Confernece at 35-30. If they remain tied after Thursday night's season-ending games, the Knicks will get the seventh seed, because they own the tiebreaker over the Sixers. New York would face Miami and the Sixers would be the eighth seed and face the top-seeded Bulls.
The Sixers are at 24-41 Detroit and the Knicks are at 7-58 Charlotte.
"I reached out to Pax [Chicago Bulls executive John Paxson] the other day and I reached out to my buddies at TNT just to see because I know TV drives what [the schedule] is," Collins said. "I know last year we started Saturday against Miami. My guess would be, if the buildings are available, they're going to want prime-time Sunday the Knicks and Miami, if that's the game, and then the Lakers and whoever they play. My guess would be Saturday would be the Bulls.
"The coaches and I are spending all of [Wednesday and Thursday] on the preparation of Chicago. We just figure that's who we are going to play. So we're spending all of our time on that so that will give us a chance to be ready."
Who's starting center?
Doug Collins said at Wednesday's shootaround that he wasn't sure who would be the starting center in the playoffs, but that it would be a choice among Lavoy Allen, Nikola Vucevic and Spencer Hawes.
Vucevic had started the last eight games but had not been playing well of late. Collins yanked him after just 2 minutes, 20 seconds on Monday in New Jersey and never put him back in. Hawes started Wednesday night against the Bucks and Vucevic came off the bench.
When Collins was asked whether Vucevic would not start in the playoffs, he said, "Correct."
With Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young in Philadelphia for some rest before the playoffs, the Sixers signed Xavier Silas for the final days of the regular season. Silas, a Northern Illinois product, was in the Sixers' training camp before being cut. He played for the Sixers' NBA Development League affiliate Maine Red Claws, averaging 9.8 points in 39 games.
"We all got close in training camp so we just kind of kept in touch, checked on each other," said Silas.
He said he learned a lot playing in the D-League. "Just that experience, the time you spend on the court playing against professionals. There's no substitute for that," he said.
"It's a great feeling to be here. I'm probably the happiest person in the world right now, to do what I get to do with some guys that I'm cool with and close with. I love coach Collins and the staff. It's a great time. I can't ask for much more. I'll just play hard, jump all over people on defense, try to help any way I can on offense. I'm very coachable." n