Prior to Saturday's 107-100 home victory over the Houston Rockets, the Philadelphia 76ers had lost five straight and seven of eight games overall. The only win in the bunch, ironically, came against the Los Angeles on New Year's Day.
Now, that stretch came on a long road trip, one in which the Sixers played eight straight road games — going 2-6 — and then lost on back-to-back nights — in Philadelphia against the Nets and at Toronto — to put an ugly exclamation point on a string of games that saw the Sixers plummet toward the bottom of the standings. The entire way, even before the long road trip started, Collins complained about the schedule. Nonstop. Time and time again, he'd reiterate how much he hated the setup and how unfair it was, and time and time again, he'd bring it up.
All this did was serve to give his own players a built-in excuse, one they clearly took as they lost game after game and played, quite honestly, unwatchable basketball. Hell, even after Saturday's very good victory, Collins couldn't shut up about the schedule:
"No excuses, you've got to play all 82," coach Doug Collins told reporters after the game. "But when they're bunched like that, it's tough. Over the holidays. We spent Christmas on the road. We spent New Year's on the road. That's not easy. People forget they do have families and they have to give that up."
What Doug should have said was, "No excuses, but I'm going to keep giving my team excuses," because that's essentially what he's been doing for the past month.
Instead of talking about what his team needs to do better, instead of finding himself a reliable rebounder and some interior toughness, instead of designing a system that offsets his team's lack of size and aggressiveness, Collins has been harping on the schedule.
If he wants the Sixers to grow, especially the younger players on the roster, he needs to stop coddling them and start coaching it up. Because the way it's been going, at least prior to Saturday, it sure looks like the Sixers have become complacent, letting the coach make excuses while they get their brains beat in by guys like Reggie Evans and Ed Davis.
This team has no toughness, no real identity and no sense of urgency. The whole philosophy seems to be "let Jrue Holiday do everything he can and everyone else try to do something," which is patently absurd for a team coached by a guy who's been in the game forever.
Collins has never lasted more than three years in any of his NBA coaching stops. He is on year three in Philadelphia, and the way his team is going, it's no stretch to think a fourth year may be at least one too many.
I hope I'm wrong because I like Doug Collins. I really do. But it's become pretty apparent as to why he never has stuck around one place too long.