It’s always good to have players who can step in and help a team out. That definitely can’t be overlooked. The Philadelphia 76ers have a great bench with Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. That’s already been established and we’re only 10 games into the season.
Aside from Williams, Young and Turner, guess who can also come off the bench? His name: Tony Battie. He started in place of Spencer Hawes, out with a lower back strain, against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Battie, a 6-foot-11, 240-pounder, scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field in a losing effort.
But statistics don’t tell the whole story with Battie or his value to the team. At 35, he understands his role as a veteran. This is his 13th season in the NBA. He’s been around the league a few times. His knowledge and experience is invaluable to all the younger players. And the Sixers have a quite a few.
If you watch him play, he gives you everything he has on the court. It seems as if he’s never out of position in regards to rebounding. He plays good defense. He looks for the open man. Battie does all the little things. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, only played Battie for 13 minutes against the Knicks. But you got the impression he could have played longer if the Sixers needed him.
Battie played his college basketball for Texas Tech. His older brother, Derrick Battie, played for Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at Temple. Derrick Battie played with Aaron McKie, Eddie Jones and Rick Brunson.
During the summer months, Tony Battie would come to Philadelphia to take part in the late John Hardnett’s workouts. Those practice sessions were loaded with outstanding players like McKie, Jones, Brunson and so many other NBA players with Philadelphia connections. The workouts were at Gustine Lake Recreation Center, Ridge Avenue and School House Lane.
Tony Battie would polish his skills in preparation for the upcoming NBA season. The hard work, discipline and competition have really paid off for him. He knows what it takes to play a long time in the NBA. That’s why he is still around.
Tony Battie was with the Sixers last year. He knows the players, the system and understands Collins’ coaching philosophy. He plays within his limitations. He is the perfect veteran for this team.
The Sixers have a 7-3 record. They’re in first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division. They’re playing the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. After that, the Sixers will head down to Washington D.C. to play the Wizards on Saturday, January 14 in a back-to-back game. The Sixers will have Sunday off, but they’ll be back on the court for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks. That’s a lot of basketball. But Tony Battie has been around this game a long time. He knows how to pace himself. If the Sixers need him, he’ll be ready.
Jason Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers new shooting guard who came over in the four-team blockbuster deal that brought center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers, knows what it’s like to play with an all-star center. Richardson played with Dwight Howard in Orlando for the last two seasons.
Now, he’s looking forward to playing with another big-time player in Bynum. Richardson knows the importance of a dominant big man.
“Andrew is a great player,” Richardson said. “He’s one of the best centers in the game right now. He’s only 24 years old. So, he definitely has some room to improve. He’s not even in his prime yet.”
Richardson, 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, brings the Sixers a lot of experience as well as a great outside shooter. He averaged 11.6 points a game last season. He shot 36.8 percent from three-point range. He connected on 40.8 percent from the field overall. Perimeter shooting was a big weakness for the Sixers. That’s one of the most improved areas with the addition of Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell Wright.
Richardson, 31, believes the Sixers have a good nucleus coming back. He was impressed with the team’s accomplishments last season.
“They have a good young team and that’s an attest to Doug Collins [Sixers head coach] with what he’s done with the team,” Richardson said. “Thaddeus Young is one of the most athletic power forwards in the league. Jrue Holiday has played well. He’s one of the best point guards in the league. We’re just excited about this year.”
Richardson was originally the fifth overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2001 NBA draft. He has appeared in 805 games with 794 starts, averaging 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.17 steals in 34.6 minutes a game while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from three-point range.
During the 2004-05 season, Richardson hit the second most three pointers of any player in the league (1,238), trailing only Miami’s Ray Allen (1,441), who was playing for the Boston Celtics. Richardson hit a career-high 243 three-pointers for Charlotte in 2007-08, the fourth-most by any player in a single season.
Richardson knows his role. His shooting talent could help the Sixers go a long way.
“I’m going to be aggressive,” he said. “I’m going to play hard and do whatever I can to help the team win games.”
When the Philadelphia 76ers need a basket, they usually get the ball in the hands of a player who can make a big shot. On most nights, Lou Williams has been there for the Sixers. It could be a three-point shot, a drive to the basket or a running one hander. Williams provides the Sixers with a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound shooting guard, has emerged as one of the best sixth men in the NBA. Williams’ scoring prowess has moved him into a special category. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, knows the team has a great player that can make a big difference.
“He’s one of the top sixth men in the NBA,” Collins said. “Obviously, Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks), Lou and probably James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder) to me really come to mind. I wouldn’t want to short change anybody else, but those three guys and what they do for their teams.
“I’ve said all along it takes a special guy like Lou to come in cold off that bench and do what he does for us on a nightly basis. When Lou plays well, we’re pretty good because it means he’s on his game. He gives me options. It means I can have Jrue (Holiday) out there. Then, I got Dre (Andre Iguodala) and I got Evan (Turner). When he plays well and is scoring, he’s gives me a lot of options to finish up games.”
Which is what Williams did Friday night in a crucial game against divisional rival Boston. Williams came off the bench to score 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting to help the Sixers take the season series from the Celtics in a 99-86 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
Williams is playing really well. It’s not too often that your leading scorer is a key reserve. But that’s Lou Williams. He’s averaging 15.7 points a game and is very comfortable in his role as the team’s sixth man.
“It’s my job to come in and be aggressive,” Williams said. “It just allows me an opportunity to give the group some energy and a presence off the bench. It’s been one of those things we’ve strived on this year. We had Thad (Thaddeus Young) and Evan (Turner). Now Evan is in the starting lineup. So, we have Jodie (Meeks) now and we’re trying to work him. It’s definitely something we’ve strived for this year.”
Williams is in his sixth season with the Sixers. He was a second round pick in the 2005 NBA draft coming out of South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., right near Atlanta. He became the first high school player chosen by the Sixers since Darryl Dawkins, who was the fifth pick overall in the first round in 1975.
Williams was a McDonald’s All-American. He was the winner of the Naismith Award, which goes to the best high school player in the nation. He scored 3,338 points in his scholastic career. He averaged 27.5 points a game his senior year. Williams has always been able to put the ball in the basket.
As a sixth man, he knows how to prepare himself for coming off the bench. He follows the flow of the game before he goes to the scorer’s table and comes into the game. He tries to get a feel for what’s going on to give him that edge.
“It has a lot to do with pre-game and looking at scouting reports,” Williams said. “You look at how certain defenders want to play you and who you have in front of you. It changes night in and night out.”
Williams, 25, has improved his skills each year with the Sixers. During the summer months, he really works on his game. He plays in the Rankin Anderson Summer Basketball League with a number of local NBA players like Kyle Lowry, Jason Thompson and others. He put himself in position to be considered for the league’s Sixth Man award.
The last Sixer to win the award was Aaron McKie, former Simon Gratz and Temple standout, who helped the Sixers get to the NBA Finals in 2001. McKie received the award during that remarkable season. Williams isn’t thinking much about the award. He’s just trying to remained focus on helping the Sixers prepare for the NBA playoffs.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Williams said. If happens, it would be great. I never set out to accomplish individual goals. If it happens in the course of us winning some games, I’ll be more than gracious.”
When Derrick Rose went down with a season ending injury in the first game of the Philadelphia 76ers-Chicago Bulls best of seven first-round NBA playoff series, some people believed the Sixers would now cruise the rest of the way in this quarterfinal matchup. Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is done for the rest of this season and likely most of next year. His absence on the floor should help the Sixers, but fans should keep in mind the ability of teams to rally once they lose a star player.
If you’re a true Sixers fan, you remember 1980 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got hurt and missed Game 6 of the NBA championship series because of an ankle injury. Well, that’s the game when Magic Johnson, then a rookie, put on a magnificent performance. Johnson had 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-117 win over the Sixers. As a result, the Lakers ended up winning the league championship.
The only difference is that was one game. It would have been interesting to see how the Lakers would have responded if Abdul-Jabbar had missed the entire series. Nevertheless, Rose’s injury does change a lot of things.
Rose is one of the most explosive players in the NBA. The Bulls all-star guard averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game this season. He had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Chicago’s 103-91 victory over the Sixers on Saturday.
Now, the Bulls will have to play backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas III against Jrue Holiday, Sixers 6-foot-4 playmaker. Holiday should have a big advantage against Watson and Lucas. However, Watson did play extremely well in an 89-80 victory over the Sixers on March 17. He had a game-high 20 points that night.
Without Rose, Chicago is pretty much left with a group of role players, which include 6-foot-7 Luol Deng, 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer, 6-foot-7 Ronnie Brewer, 6-foot-7 Richard Hamilton, 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-9 Taj Gibson. None of these players are superstars at this point in their careers. The Sixers should be able to matchup with Holiday, 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala, 6-foot-7 Evan Turner, 6-foot-9 Elton Brand, 6-foot-1 Lou Williams and 6-foot-8 Thaddeus Young.
Holiday had 16 points and seven rebounds in game one. Brand was very impressive, scoring a team-high 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
The big thing with the Sixers is they have to do a better job on the boards and play better on defense. They have to force as many turnovers as possible. They need to get out and run whenever the opportunity presents itself. In spite of Rose not being there, the Sixers style of play shouldn’t change.
The Sixers will face the Bulls on Tuesday night, May 1 at 8 p.m. in what should be a very interesting Game 2 of this series. They could definitely use a win to shift the momentum with Games 3 and 4 at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6.
Rose missed 27 games this season. The Bulls were 18-9 without him. They know how to win without Rose. The Sixers have to remember and come with the same intensity as if Rose were still there.
If and when Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum plays this season, Jalen Rose feels the Sixers, who are a playoff team without him, could go to the next level. Of course, Bynum hasn’t played or practiced since the Sixers got him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.
Bynum has been recovering from a bone bruise in his right knee. He also injured his left knee bowling. The Sixers big man is expected to have his knees examined on Dec. 20. Nevertheless, Rose, an NBA analyst for ESPN, feels Bynum could make them a strong contender in the playoffs when and if he debuts as a Sixer.
“Doug Collins (Sixers head coach) has done a terrific job with that team. Who would have thought they would be a couple games above .500 while the Lakers and their roster are a couple games below,” Rose said. “I think once they get Andrew Bynum back and he’s healthy and playing at a high level and gets back on the floor, I look at the Philadelphia 76ers with the development of Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday and the bigs (big men) they have to play around Bynum.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have what it takes to advance to the playoffs. The Miami Heat are the favorites obviously to win the East. The New York Knicks have put themselves in that conversation. [With] Indiana, you still have to see what happens with (Danny) Granger, and the (Brooklyn) Nets, you have to see if they’re going to stay healthy. So all the time I felt Philadelphia was in the mix with that second tier.”
Bynum, 25, hasn’t played a game since last May. The 7-foot, 285-pounder, averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game last season. He’s an NBA all-star who has helped the Lakers win two NBA championships. Rose envisions a slight adjustment period for Bynum in terms of getting into playing shape.
“The conditioning may not be there initially,” Rose said. “That probably will take two to four weeks. But as far as getting him on that left block and allowing him to operate and be a 20-point scorer, I think that will come initially as soon as he gets backs out on the floor.”
In regard to when Bynum will play, it’s not clear. It appears that Bynum and the Sixers should know a lot more about his knee injuries in the coming weeks. Bynum is in the last year of his contract and reportedly could sign a five-year deal for more than $100 million after this season.
“Well, he basically said recently he’s going to know something between and around the first of the year when he feels like he’s going to come back,” Rose said. “He seems eager to come back, the sooner the better. We all know he’s in a contract year. He wants to play at a high level. I mean for his future it will be a great time for him to come out and be an anchor for what Philadelphia is trying to build since they’re starting to build the roster around him.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Andrew Bynum had an adoring public in front of him and beaming management on stage to his right.
The Philadelphia 76ers had thrown open the doors of a press conference to the public and hundreds of fans, longing for a reason to get excited again, came to chant the name of their new superstar. Eager to win over his new supporters, Bynum worked the faithful into a frenzy. Without playing a game for the Sixers, he said he wanted to make Philadelphia his home — and the team was ready to commit.
"Where do I sign?" owner Joshua Harris said. "Show me the contract."
Harris should be glad now he didn't sign any deals in early August.
Those cheers for Bynum were the only ones the 7-foot center has heard 38 games into a season that has the Sixers spiraling from hopeful Atlantic Division contenders toward the NBA draft lottery. With Bynum, the Sixers expected to make a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Without him, the Sixers are lagging at 16-22 and entered Monday four games behind Boston for the final spot in the East.
The Sixers can't blame all their woes on missing Bynum.
But he sure would help.
"It's hard to say how it's affected us because we haven't played with him," forward Thaddeus Young said.
Bynum has sat out the season because of bone bruises on both his knees. Bynum, an All-Star last year with the Lakers, in on a six-step rehabilitation process that he hopes will get him back into lineup around the Feb. 15 All-Star break. He's worked weights into his rehab and started running on Monday.
He proclaimed his knees pain free.
"They're the best I've had in a long time, so they look really, really good to me," Bynum told reporters Monday after practice.
Again, Bynum had no true timetable for his return, though "around the All-Star break" was the first new range he suggested in weeks. Bynum's potential return date has been in flux since training camp. One day before practice was set to open, the Sixers announced Bynum would be shut down for three weeks as a precaution after he received knee treatment in Germany. Three weeks has turned into three months. He even injured his left knee while bowling.
He participated in shooting drills with assistant coaches Michael Curry and Brian James, as well as head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson on Monday. Bynum cautioned, though, that he still had plenty of rehabilitation left to complete.
"I'm not back. But I'm headed in that direction," he said. "It's all positive."
The 76ers good use a dose of good news. Their 10-6 start has twisted into a 6-16 stretch entering Tuesday's game against New Orleans. The Sixers hope Saturday's win over Houston to open a stretch of 12 home games in the next 13 can be the calming factor that stabilizes their season. Throw in Bynum's return, and the Sixers just might be able to still make a dent in the postseason.
Team president Rod Thorn and general manager Tony DiLeo would love to know Bynum's availability before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. If Bynum hasn't returned, or the Sixers are still scuffling, the front office could look to make more big trades to win down the road.
Bynum, who averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season, would be worth the wait if he matched those numbers.
"We've got Andrew Bynum, All-Star," Young said. "He's a great player and we're willing to wait on him each and every day. He's definitely a focal point of what we're trying to do. He's definitely, 'The guy.' I wouldn't rather have anybody else."
Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown haven't come close to filling Bynum's numbers at center. Allen has taken a big step back from his rookie season and is averaging only 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. Before their 107-100 win over Houston on Saturday, the Sixers ranked 27th in the NBA in scoring (92.2 points) and have regularly failed to even reach 90 points over the last six weeks. They scored more than 89 points for the first time in six games against the Rockets.
Not exactly what CEO Adam Aron expected when he touted at Bynum's arrival, "The Sixers are once again the talk of the town."
The Sixers have lost 13 of their last 17 games but a soft slate of games this week against New Orleans and Toronto could help turn that around.
The struggles haven't fractured the locker room under coach Doug Collins, and the tight unit has bounced back from swoons before.
"We're not going to splinter," Collins said, "not as long as I'm the coach."
DiLeo has repeatedly said he would make the Bynum trade again. What else would he say? Bynum is in the final year of his contract and would love nothing more to return to help the Sixers win and prove he's healthy enough to merit a $100-plus million deal in the summer.
Lost in the shuffle of the Sixers dumping Elton Brand, Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala was their decision to send Nikola Vucevic to Orlando as part of the four-team Bynum trade. Vucevic fell out of Collins' rotation at the end of last season and played in only one of their 13 playoff games. The 7-footer is sixth in the NBA in rebounds (11.0) and is making only $1.76 million — scraps compared to the $16.75 million Bynum will earn this season.
Bynum is eligible for a five-year contract after July 1, once he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Sixers can offer Bynum more years and money than any other team. With good reason, they want to know what kind of Bynum is on the market: The L.A. All-Star or the Sixers' Sidelined Center. -- (AP)
Believe it or not, Thaddeus Young is one of the real veteran players on the Philadelphia 76ers. It seems like just yesterday when the Sixers selected him with the 12th overall pick out of Georgia Tech in the 2007 NBA draft.
Young is now in his sixth season with the Sixers. Moreover, he’s the longest tenured Sixer. At age 24, he’s one of the team leaders. Young has exhibited great basketball and terrific leadership skills this season.
“I’ve been here longer than anybody on the team,” Young said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve been here through coaches and different staffs and ownership change. I just take it and go with it.
“My teammates, we’ve been talking and I think this is one of the better communicating teams we’ve had. Even though we’ve played with different groups, I think this is a better communicating team because we have a couple of solid vets who have been to the championship and been to the finals and who have been to the second and third round. I think that’s the biggest part of this change.”
Young, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward, has been one of the Sixers most consistent players. He’s averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Young has been running the floor, taking the 15 footer, rebounding and playing good defense.
“It’s just about going out there and knowing what you have to do to help your team win with Lou (Williams), Dre (Andre Iguodala) and EB (Elton Brand) gone,” Young said. “There are more shots and more time for me to be out on the court. I have to produce. If I’m going to be out there, I have to produce at all times. I have to be in the pluses and not the minuses. The same thing for Evan (Turner) and Jrue (Holiday), we’ve been here. We’re the guys the organization is shaping around and Andrew Bynum also. So, we have to produce and show production.”
Young has been producing throughout his career. He’s performed extremely well as a starter and a reserve. A year ago, Young and Lou Williams, who now plays for the Atlanta Hawks, were arguably the NBA’s top reserve tandem. Young averaged 12.8 points and 5.2 rebounds a game while helping the Sixers to the NBA playoffs.
“I don’t think it was a big change for me,” Young said. “Last year, I was always in the game playing in the fourth quarter. I was one of those guys the team looked to get a bucket when we needed it or when we needed to get a stop. I was one of the guys who did that. Throughout the course of my career, I’ve had over 100 starts. I’ve always had that starter’s mentality. It was just about getting back into the rotation.
“With me and Lou, when we came off the bench we had to be ready. We were the scorers. The ball is going to be in our hands all the time. We have to kind of facilitate whether we’re coming back or taking the lead. That’s what the coach trusted in us. That’s what we had to do. You have to be ready when you come into the game.”
The Sixers (12-10) are coming off a disappointing 96-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Young was very steady in that contest scoring 13 points, pulling down nine rebounds and handing out three assists. The Sixers will face the Indiana Pacers on the road tonight. After that, they will return home to host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.
If the Philadelphia 76ers are going to make the playoffs, the team has a lot of work to do after the NBA All-Star break. The Sixers’ latest loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was critically damaging in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bucks (26-25) are in the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. With the Sixers dropping a 94-92 decision to the Bucks on Wednesday, they have now fallen four games back. In addition, Milwaukee has beaten the Sixers three times this season, holding the tie-breaker with one game remaining between the teams.
The Sixers have 31 games left in the season. After the All-Star break, the schedule isn’t very kind either. The team faces the Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors. With the exception of the Magic and the Timberwolves, all these teams are headed to the playoffs and the Heat are the NBA champions with LeBron James, who will probably win the league’s Most Valuable Player award again this season.
Moreover, the Sixers have just 12 games left at home. So, they’re going to have to play their best basketball on the road. And that’s not easy at this time of the year, when a lot of teams are jockeying for playoff position.
Doug Collins, Sixers’ head coach, will have to find a way to get his team on a serious playoff run. Collins has quite the task in front of him. Of course, everybody has been waiting for 7-foot center Andrew Bynum to play. Bynum has been plagued with bilateral knee bone bruises. He has given various updates on the condition of his knees, but still doesn’t seem to know when he will debut this season.
At this point, the Sixers can’t count on Bynum. Even if he comes back and plays, it’s going to take him a while to get into playing shape. He hasn’t played a game since last spring, when the Los Angeles Lakers were in the playoffs. Jason Richardson, Sixers’ shooting guard, will miss the rest of the season after left knee surgery. Richardson, a veteran and good outside shooter, averaged 10.5 points a game. The Sixers are also playing without small forward Thaddeus Young, who has been rehabbing a left hamstring injury. Young has missed four games. Prior to the injury, Young was having a great season averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.
Young has been the team’s most consistent player this season, and getting him back healthy will be a big lift.
Jrue Holiday, who will be heading to Houston this weekend for his first NBA all-star appearance, will have to step up even more after the break. Holiday is averaging 17.8 points and 8.9 assists a game. He’s going to have to limit his turnovers and provide some additional leadership in the backcourt. Evan Turner, Sixers’ small forward, is averaging 13.8 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, but Turner is going to have to do more, particularly if Holiday hits a flat spot. Nick Young has to continue to provide some much needed outside shooting. Young is averaging 11.5 points a game and certainly has had some big moments.
The most work needs to come from the frontcourt with Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen. Hawes is averaging 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. Allen is tallying 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. The numbers aren’t a big thing with them. But they have to do a better job of coming up with loose balls and key rebounds. Too many second and third shots have hurt the Sixers.
Overall, defense has been lacking. That’s one thing Collins could always count on last year. Obviously, Andre Iguodala was a big part of that. Iguodala is one of the best defensive players in the league. That’s why the Denver Nuggets will be a team to contend with in the playoffs. But the Sixers need to come with stops first. If they can get some steals and force some turnovers that will improve their scoring.
The Sixers need to get off to a good start, to say the least. They can’t afford a losing streak now.
You want a Game 7? Well, now you have one. The Philadelphia 76ers will face the Boston Celtics on Saturday, May 26 at TD Garden in Boston. The Sixers are coming off an impressive 82-75 victory over the Celtics in Game 6 to tie the series at 3-3.
There’s nothing like a seven game series. The last time the Sixers played a seven game series was in 2001 when they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Sixers have had some classic seven game playoff series with the Celtics. The history goes back 44 years when the Sixers surrendered a 3-1 deficit to lose to the Celtics in seven games. In 1981, Boston defeated Philly in seven games. The Sixers also gave up a 3-1 series to lose in the playoffs.
But the Sixers have beaten the Celtics in some memorable seven games. In 1977, they defeated the Celtics 83-77 in the final game of the best of seven series at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, was a member of that team. Collins played with Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Lloyd (World B.) Free, Henry Bibby, Caldwell Jones, Darryl Dawkins, Joe Bryant and Steve Mix.
“They were a very talented team that year,” Collins said. “They beat us in Game 1. We went in and beat them in Game 3. It was one of the hottest nights in Boston Garden. I think I dropped 15 pounds of fluid that night chasing (John) Havlicek. I didn’t have a lot of fluids. We came back in Game 7. It was an ugly, ugly game. We had World. He was racking them up that game. He got about 28 shots up that game. It was all good. That was the year we went to the Finals.”
In 1982, the Sixers were on the verge of losing another 3-1 lead in the series, but went into the Boston Garden and came away with a 120-106 victory over the Celtics. The Sixers had a great team featuring Erving, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Dawkins and Caldwell Jones. After the big win over the Celtics, the Sixers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals.
This is a new Game 7 coming up. It’s a chance for Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young to be a part of history. If they can get past the Celtics in a series where Boston was heavily favored, these players will place themselves in a special category. The Celtics will lean on Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass to pull off another big win at home.
The home team is usually the favorite in these games. But there’s no guarantee. Three weeks ago, the Los Angeles Clippers popped the Memphis Grizzlies in a seventh game in Memphis. Collins just wanted to get his team to a seventh game after going down 3-2 in the series.
“We wanted to win tonight and give ourselves a chance to go into Boston and see what happens on Saturday in Game 7,” Collins said after Wednesday’s victory.
Collins doesn’t plan to just show up for the game. He wants to win. He’s not looking at moral victories.
“I want more,” he said. “We’re going to get greedy and we want more. We’ve fought. We’ve worked and gone through a lot as a team. We’ve grown. Our mindset is that I don’t want to go into that with no matter what happens everything is okay. I want to go with the idea of let’s see what we can do. Let’s see if we can go get us a win.”
There are a lot of new faces on the Philadelphia 76ers roster this season. The Sixers also have some familiar faces as well.
Evan Turner is one of them.
Turner will be entering his third season, and this should be a big year for him. Although the Sixers returning players Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen should provide some guidance and direction, Turner will have to exhibit some leadership skills as well.
“I think the most important is the guys looking forward to lead,” Turner said. “We have some new guys looking for direction. We have some leaders who are willing to listen.”
Turner, 23, was selected by the Sixers with the second pick overall in the 2010 NBA draft out of Ohio State. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound guard, has shown improvement each year. As a rookie, he averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists a game. Last season, he tallied 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists. But Turner really took his game to another level in the postseason averaging 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds a contest.
The Sixers defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs in six games. After that, they gave the Boston Celtics all they could handle in the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing in seven games. Turner had a chance to gain some meaningful experience in the playoffs.
“It obviously helped me going up against Hall of Fame guards in every series,” Turner said. “That was key for myself and Jrue. We know what to expect now. We know what type of level we have to crank it up to.”
With the addition of all-star center Andrew Bynum (currently recovering from a bone bruise) and shooting guard Jason Richardson, the Sixers have added a lot of depth. But gone is all-star guard Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, which should open the door for Turner in regards to his development. He spent a lot of time working on his game during the offseason.
“It’s an establishing year,” Turner said. “I’ve got to earn my minutes. I’ve got to earn the right to play and from there try to crank it up a notch.”
Aaron McKie, Sixers assistant coach, has seen Turner put in a great deal of time to improve his game.
“Evan sets the standards high for himself,” McKie said. “Sometimes I worry whether he’s putting too much pressure on himself where some things you have to let happen. But I like that in a guy because he really wants it. He wants to be a leader. He wants to be the guy and it’s a process, but that’s the process he’s willing to take on.”
Turner recently displayed some leadership skills at the “What It Takes 8” program, which was held at the National Constitution Center, Fifth and Arch streets. He got a chance to speak to a number of Philadelphia students.
“I think the youth is the way,” Turner said. “I was one of those kids sitting in the seats trying to learn from a successful person. It’s all about giving back most of that stuff goes a long way. I’m all for giving back and investing in the youth. I was glad I was asked to do it.”
Turner will lead the Sixers in their first preseason game against the Orlando Magic from the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. The Sixers first preseason game at home will be on Oct. 15 against the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m.