Friday, April 22, 2011

Leave Doug Collins Alone

After the Sixers got completely blown off the court by the Heat in game 2, Doug Collins gave an honest, candid assessment of the situation, saying that if Miami plays great, they're a better team.

To me, all Doug Collins was doing was stating the obvious and doing what we always ask of our sports personalities but rarely get, which is being honest. He didn't talk badly about his team or say his players were no good. He simply stated the undeniable fact that Miami won 58 games to Philadelphia's 41. Clearly they are the superior team. As a Sixers fan, I wasn't the least bit upset about that.

Then I tuned in to TNT's pregame show and had to listen to Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, two former players, say there is no way Doug Collins should have admitted that. (By the way, I'd like to personally thank TNT and DirecTV for not blacking out the TNT broadcast, mercifully allowing me to listen to Marv Albert and Steve Kerr instead of making my ears bleed with Marc Zumoff and especially the atrocity that is Eric Snow broadcasting a game.) Ernie Johnson tried to talk some sense into them, saying Collins was simply stating facts and being honest, not questioning his team. But Charles and Kenny had a different view.

Now, I completely understand what Charles and Kenny were saying. Barkley said he'd never want his best player or his coach to say something like that, because it makes players believe they can't win. And Kenny added that what separates pro athletes from everyone else is "delusions of grandeur," where every one of them honestly believes they are the best or capable of beating the best. I get that. I understand that. And I see where they're coming from. Barkley even went so far as to say he guarantees Monty Williams didn't tell Chris Paul and Hornets that, Lionel Hollins didn't tell the Grizzlies that and Nate McMillan didn't tell the Trail Blazers that. I get it.

But come on. Are we really going to try and use this against Doug Collins? The man has coached his ass off for the Sixers this season, giving this team a complete 180 in both production and attitude. He's motivated his players to get the most of their ability and found a way to make this team a legitimately competitive squad, albeit one that is far from competing for a championship. All he was doing was saying, look, if the Heat, with two of the best players on the planet and a third that has been an No. 1 option almost all of his life, play to the best of their ability, the Sixers can't match that. It's simply true, especially when Collins doesn't have the luxury of anyone like a Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge or even a Zach Randolph, all of whom are all stars.

Doug Collins doesn't have those type of players. He doesn't even have an all star on his roster. Yes, Elton Brand has been an all star in the past, but he's no longer that player anymore. And the team's "franchise player" is averaging 6 points a game in this series. Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks are not walking through that door. So let's just drop this whole charade that what Collins said was controversial or betraying some unwritten code. He's been coaching up his team and getting maximum effort out them, and he did that again last night. But the Heat are simply better, and that's why they won by six points despite the Sixers giving it their all.

Maybe we should focus more on what we're getting out of the Sixers. They surprised a lot of people by hanging tough in game 1 and even fighting all the way back to make a game of it after falling behind by double digits in the third quarter. And after Monday's shellacking, the Sixers could have easily folded, resided to the fact that no matter what they had no shot in the series. In fact, that's exactly what Charles Barkley said would happen last night, saying the Sixers had no shot to make it competitive and were going to get killed. Guess what? That didn't happen.

The Sixers came out with everything they had in the first quarter, much like they did in game 1, putting up 29 points and going up 8 after 12 minutes of play. And even as the Heat slowly took control, the Sixers never faded. They hung in there all the way to end, fought tooth and nail to stay close. It didn't result in a win, and the season will probably be over on Easter Sunday, but it was just more proof that these guys lay it all on the line for Collins, no matter what he says. So leave the guy alone.

As for the game, what can you do when Dwyane Wade goes for 32, 10 and 8 with a steal, two blocks while connecting on 12-12 from the line? What can you do when LeBron effortlessly gets 24, 15 and 6? What can you do when Chris Bosh was practically unnoticeable and still finished with 19 points and 6 rebounds? The answer is not much.

Elton Brand played as well as Elton Brand can play, working his tail off on both ends of the court and leading the Sixers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Jrue Holiday showed he has the makings to be something special going for 20 points and 8 assists while connecting on 7-13 from the field and 4-5 from three. Spencer Hawes gave some spirited minutes, putting up 12 and 6 with two blocks.

But when push came to shove, the Heat simply have better players. Wade, LeBron and Bosh all were fantastic, while Andre Iguodala looked completely helpless out there, overpassing on every possession. Yes, he did manage a double-double, handing out 10 assists and getting 10 points, but I've never seen him so hesitant to shoot in my life. Normally, Sixers fans are begging Iggy to take less shots. Last night, he went to the other extreme. He came in averaging just 4.5 points in the first two contests, and that clearly had him psyched out. There were at least 5 times last night where he could have taken it to the rim and gone up strong, but instead made an unnecessary pass. And this is supposed to be your franchise player, a guy who only took 10 shots and made just three of them.

And the two biggest threats off the bench couldn't get much going either. Lou Williams did have 15 points, but he shot just 5-12. And Thad was invisible, going just 1-8 for 4 points. The Sixers simply don't have the horses to compete with Miami. That's why they're down 3-0, not because Doug Collins doesn't believe in his squad.

The only thing Collins is responsible for is this team's renewed energy and major turnaround. He's responsible for bringing life back into a previously lifeless franchise. He's the reason the Wells Fargo Center was packed last night. So please, just leave Doug Collins alone.

1 comment:

  1. I really don't understand what Charles was getting at. He says he guarantees that Lionel Hollins didn't say that. Well maybe that's because the Grizzlies actually have a shot to beat the Spurs. They match up well against them. There's no need for him to say that.

    Hell, there's nothing Philly can do when Miami is at their best, and when Collins said it, not only did I agree with him, I wasn't angry with him at all.