PHILADELPHIA If he wasnt so genuine, youd think 76ers head coach Doug Collins was playing some kind of mind game. Following his teams morning shootaround, Collins, an Illinois native and former Bulls head coach, praised his Sunday-night opponent to the point that it seemed he was attempting to soften them up via osmosis or at least visiting media with plaudits about the visitors greatness.
The Bulls are going to be ready. Weve had a couple good games against them, so Im sure theyre going to be ready," said the Illinois native. "Plus, Im sure, too, theyre playing for that home-court advantage. Them and Miami right now, Im sure are watching each other and Im sure the Bulls would like to get the best record throughout. Theyre a great road team I think theyre 16-6 on the road theyre going to have a really good home finish, in terms of games at home, so Im sure those two teams have an eye on one another and you factor in Oklahoma City and all, this year, everybodys really looking for that home-court advantage, so this is a really big game for them.
This is a very proud team, they defend very, very well. Tommy Thibodeaus done a wonderful job with that team. Their defense is terrific, they rebound the ball, they shoot the three well. They have all the elements of a championship team, so for us, we play a game like this, its always a great way for us to see what do we have to do to keep getting better.
Of course, Collins bunch beat the Bulls handily the last time they were in Philadelphia and the veteran coach is wise enough to not inflame what could be a second-round playoff foe by boasting about the Sixers performance in that affair. Collins admitted there were mitigating factors in that contest most notably, the dual absences of Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng but also acknowledged his own teams advantages.
They play 10 guys, very good bench. We did not see Rip or Luol the last time. Lus having a terrific year. Hes really shooting the ball well, his three-point shooting is up, which really makes it difficult to guard Lu because hes such a slasher and a cutter. This team obviously Derrick Rose with the ball in his hands so pick-and-roll, trying to keep them out of the paint. Youve got to rebound the ball against this team. They outrebound their opponents by about six a game and so, if you have any hope of winning the game, from our standpoint, you have to rebound the ball because our speed is a factor, he explained. When weve played in the past, one of the reasons weve been able to beat them is because our speed has been a huge factor. So, rebounding, Rose trying to keep him out of that paint, keep him off the foul line and then give ourselves a chance to get into the open court and makes plays.
"Thats what we did in here the last time and Rip Hamilton being back now means that he gets off all these screens, chase him off screens and then Watson played very well in here against us. Theyve got two very good big guys, Asik and Gibson, coming off the bench. Brewer, who started the last time, Korver, who can really shoot. Theyve got a team that has a chance to win it all, so this is a game from our standpoint, where we know weve got to do a lot of things right to win.
Thats the whole key for us. We cant let them shoot a high percentage and weve got to rebound the ball, can we get some deflections? We made some shots, as well. For us, we were in one of those stretches where we were shooting the ball pretty well and Im hoping that the last couple of games, see the ball go in the basket a little bit, that our guys feel pretty good about that, Collins, whose team is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, continued. We just tried to get them playing in a crowd. Thats what we tried to do. Active hands, get some deflections. I dont think Derrick was feeling well the last time we played them here. He had missed shootaround that morning and didnt actually even play in the fourth quarter of the game against us. They had no Rip, they had no Lu, so that was all huge factors. The amazing thing about them was they got on a bus after that game and went to New York City, and went in and won