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."

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”