Sixers' Collins elects to keep struggling Brand as starter

Sixers' Collins elects to keep struggling Brand as starter
May 18, 2012, 11:56 pm
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PHILADELPHIA Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins acknowledges Lavoy Allen has done as good a job as any of his players on defending Kevin Garnett.

But Collins was emphatic that he will not consider replacing a struggling Elton Brand in the starting lineup, with Allen.

"We'd like to have him (Lavoy) on Kevin Garnett," Collins said. "But we're not going to take Elton Brand out of the starting lineup."

More than anything else, loyalty appears to be the driving force behind Collins' decision to remain status quo with his starting lineup despite mounting evidence that an Allen-Brand swap might prove beneficial to the Sixers.

Brand is averaging 6.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in the playoffs. In this series against Boston, Brand's numbers have dipped to 4.7 points and three rebounds per game. Even more telling has been the fact that the Sixers are minus-27 when Brand is on the floor in this series.

Allen's numbers are comparable (6.3 points, 4.8 rebounds) for the playoffs. But there's a noticeable difference in his impact in this second-round series compared to his teammate.

Against the Celtics, Allen is averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. In addition, he has defended Garnett better than any other Philadelphia big man.

That said, Collins made it abundantly clear that he planned to stick with Brand as his starting power forward.

"I just think EB deserves to start," Collins said. "He's one of our proudest players; I admire and respect him to the ultimate. I'm not going to come in here in a game like tonight and not having him in our starting lineup. I have too much respect for this game and him and what he's done for this team, for what he's done for this organization. He was a much-maligned player here for a couple years for his contract and his injuries. And I'm going to give him every chance to be successful."

However, Collins wouldn't rule out turning to the bench - most likely, Allen - early if he felt it was needed.

"I might have to sub early, but I'm going to give him every chance to go out and play, absolutely," Collins said. "That's who I am."