Sixers' Collins elects to keep struggling Brand as starter

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Sixers' Collins elects to keep struggling Brand as starter

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."

C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

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C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

WALTHAM -- The national anthem protests by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have had an undeniable ripple effect on professional sports teams across the country. And that includes the Boston Celtics.
 
“We as an organization know what’s going on,” said Marcus Smart. “We read and see and hear about it every day. It’s a sensitive subject for everybody.”
 
While it’s unlikely that Celtics players will do something similar to Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, there’s no question some are figuring out the best way to utilize their platform as athletes to express their views on current social issues.
 
“Us athletes have to take advantage of the stage we’re on,” said Jae Crowder. “Try to make a positive out it. You can’t fix negative problems with negative energy. I don’t want to do anything negative; I want to do something positive, shed light on the situation.”
 
Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and a number of professional athletes have tried to have more attention paid to recent killings of African-Americans by police officers where, based on the video footage, it appears excessive or unnecessary force was used.
 
It is a topic that has brought a wide range of responses from many in the sports world, including the dean of NBA coaches, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
 
During the Spurs’ media day this week, he was asked about the Kaepernick’s protests.
 
“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” Popovich told reporters. “The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it.”
 
As examples of the political pressure he was referring to, Popovich mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to galvanize group, as well as the NBA and other organizations pulling their events out of the state of North Carolina because of its legislation as it relates to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
 
“The important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is keep it in the conversation,” Popovich said.
 
And while there may be differing opinions as to whether Kaepernick or any other athlete should be protesting, the one common thread that seems to bind the Celtics players and the front office is them having the right to speak out not only as professional athletes, but Americans.
 
“The biggest thing is we all really value the freedoms that we have and that we’ve been allotted,” said coach Brad Stevens, who added that he has had individual discussions with players on this subject. “We certainly support an individual’s freedoms. It’s been great to engage in those discussions. It’s been really fun for me how excited our guys are about using their platform.”
 
And that more than anything else is why Crowder feels the Celtics have to have a united front as far as the message they present to the masses.
 
“If we want change we have to do it together,” Crowder said. “I feel like those guys (other athletes) used their platforms well. I think more athletes should do the same. You can’t do it with any hatred; you can’t do it with any negative. You have to do it with positive energy.”