"The coach can't play the game." "He deserves the benefit of the doubt." "But he's a Real Philly Guy." "Got us to within one game of the ECF only last year." "The front office loves him." "He's done well getting the team to overachieve the other years here, this year was too much with the injuries and the Bynum media circus." "It's all the lack of talent."
What are "Things Doug Collins apologists are saying right now over their eggs and bacon with coffee," Alex?
Notice that none of these are "He's the kind of coach who knows how to build a good team, put a system around them that maximizes their chances to succeed, manage a rotation, and run effective plays for the game situation."
No, the Sixers are not a talented team. Yes, Bynum has been a one-man three-ring circus. Yes, the injuries have been kinda nuts. No, he can't go out there and play for them, and there have been execution problems. And yes, we all watched as our overachieving Band of Brothers took the Celtics to a Game 7 in the second round, in the Playoffs of Derrick Rose's Knee.
That's not good enough.
I'll start this by saying that I don't believe Collins is a terrible coach. He's not Eddie Jordan. And I do appreciate what he does well, which is get crappy teams to play hard and be mediocre/respectable/"relevant." The emotional fan in me that still remembers getting Dr. J's autograph on my sneaker at the old Philadelphia Athletic Club when I was 12 really doesn't want to root for a 17-win team. However, the rational, intelligent, thoughtful fan that spends way too much time discussing and watching and reading about the Sixers as a 48-year-old attorney, he understands that the only way to go from mediocre is down.
Also, the first guy is the one who likes to yell "POINTZZZZZ!!" and make Monta Ellis jokes. Just for the record. :)
Anyway. The funny part about all this is that finally, due to some circumstances beyond his control, and some circumstances very much under his control, the magic balancing act finally ended, and the wheels came off the Love Bus. The team sucks at an Eddie Jordan-esque level, despite Collins's famous motivational abilities. Last night, I watched as his team gave the mighty Miami Heat their very best shot, and still get blown out of the arena.
Yes, there's no Bynum and this team was architected around having Bynum. And they really, REALLY miss Thad Young. I get that. I do.
But that doesn't explain all the DNP-CDs for the one big they have who understands that after he sets a screen, it's more useful for him to run towards the basket, rather than away from it. It doesn't explain the baffling dependency on guys like Royal Ivey (even after getting Pargo, who I like) and Damien Wilkins. At least we're over the painful obsession with Kwame Brown, it looks like. But, y'know, at least statistically speaking, Kwame's kinda done his job. That cannot be said for Our American Hero, Spencer Hawes. I don't care a bit about his counting stats. Everything about him screams "soft unathletic big guy who loves to shoot long jumpshots and hates to be touched by other men." Lavoy Allen is what he is; a decent backup big forced to play far too large a role on a team with insufficient talent to allow for such an extensive role for a player like Lavoy Allen.
In our world of "What Are You Doing For Me Right Now?" I can understand why Collins would feel he needs to win as much as he can. But the people who employ him are anything but stupid. They had to understand that without Bynum, this was going to be a lost season anyway. There's just no excuse for not playing Moultrie. There's just no excuse for any member of the Axis of Evil to be playing at all without multiple injuries or a 25+ point differential either way. There's just no excuse for this team to be so dependent on long twos. There's just no excuse for his seeming total inability to understand the strengths of most of his players and play to them. There's just no excuse for building an offense largely around midrange jumpers by Spencer Hawes. There's just no excuse for this team being HISTORICALLY bad at getting to the free throw line. There's no excuse, 3/4 of the way through the season, for not understanding that Dorell Wright needs consistent minutes to get into a shooting rhythm and doesn't function well when one night he's playing 35 minutes and the next three nights he's getting DNP-CD'd for no apparent reason.
It's not like any of this stuff is stunning insight. I'm not Derek, who lives and breathes this stuff and spends hours breaking down film and advanced stats on Synergy and knows more about the technical aspect of the game than I could ever hope to. And a lot of my fandom is still based on those days of my youth when my stepfather had season tickets to the Dr. J-era teams and I got him to sign my sneaker (he seemed very, very tall). But I know what a pick and roll is, and why it's good to run them a lot. I know that when a big sets a good screen, guards get better looks. I know that it's better, when in transition, to go to the rim than to go for the PUJIT. I know that the long two is the worst shot in basketball, and that building an offensive strategy based entirely upon long twos is generally a Bad Idea, especially when the player taking such a bad shot is a 7'1 Republican with a mullet, who would be far more useful much closer to the basket. I know that if one is going to take a 21-foot jumpshot, it makes a certain amount of sense to take one big step back and shoot a three instead, because you get more points (POINTZZZZZ!!!) for basically the same degree of difficulty.
Doug Collins is a guy who's been around NBA basketball since before almost anyone reading this was born (and I was only 9 when he was drafted). He seems like a basically good guy. He seems like a fairly intelligent guy. I can't believe he doesn't know that all these things are true.
But his team is not playing in accordance with any of these very simple, basic truths about the game of basketball. I get the lack of talent, but I see the lack of fundamental basketball strategy and tactics, the lack of polish and execution, the failure to adjust to what is working and what is not, the players not being in a position to maximize whatever talents they have, and that always comes back to the coach.
That's why Dough Must Go.