By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Throughout the first 12 games of the 2012-13 season, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins has been looking for his team to play with more consistency from start to finish.
With a 7-5 record coming into Saturday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sixers have often had trouble getting out of the gate. In nine of their first 12 games, they’ve held just three first-quarter leads.
“The first quarter dictates how you’re going to play with your rotations,” Collins said. “Do you let teams hit their first five or six shots to get themselves going? You have to get your team in an offensive rhythm.”
The 76ers can ill afford to have a bad start against a superstar laden team like the Thunder which has players like point guard Russell Westbrook and forward Kevin Durant who can score from just about anywhere.
“They’ve got superstars on that team that can fill it up,” said guard/forward Nick Young. “We just gotta come out and hit first. We can’t get knocked out first by them because there’s no coming back from that. You look forward to these games. I expect us to come out with energy (Saturday) night. It’s one of those big games. The gym is going to be packed, we look forward to those games.”
On some occasions, the Sixers have fought their way back and won games like last Tuesday’s home win over the Toronto Raptors. But the next night on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Sixers fell behind by 19 points and hit just 4-of-26 from the field midway through the second quarter.
By the fourth quarter, the Sixers cut the lead to two points with over three minutes left in the game before Cleveland went on a 13-0 scoring spurt to seal the game.
“We’ve got to get off to better starts with energy and a sense of purpose,” Collins said. “From our standpoint, it starts with game-day shoot around and when we get to the arena and do our pre-game stuff, how we get out in warm-up and how we get into the game. We have to get better at it.”
The key for the Sixers will be if they can generate some energy on the defensive end, they can get their running game going on offense.
“I think getting defensive stops really pushes our offense,” said point guard Jrue Holiday. “I think if we lock in defensively and get out in transition and get easy baskets that will definitely fuel our offense.”
In the Sixers half-court offense, Collins said he was also concerned about getting his big men like Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes some touches in the paint and not put too much pressure on the Sixers perimeter game.
“We’ve got to start rewarding our big guys like we did during the preseason,” Collins said. “We did a really good job of getting the ball inside. The guys need to touch the ball and that doesn’t mean touch to score. They have to feel the ball …That will encourage them to do the grunt work we ask them to do.”