Sixers head into difficult stretch of games

Posted: November 23, 2010

The NBA schedule-maker made certain the Sixers will have to eat their Thanksgiving Day dinner on the run with a slate of four games in five nights, beginning Tuesday in Washington.

It will be the busiest and most difficult stretch of the young season, and now the question is whether the Sixers' youth will provide the energy to grab a couple wins or if their inexperience will leave them deeper in the Atlantic Division basement.

After Washington, the Sixers will move on to Toronto on Wednesday and Miami on Friday before they return home Saturday against New Jersey.

"We play a lot now, we'll learn faster and we can become a better team," second-year guard Jrue Holiday said.

Swingman Andre Iguodala, who has missed five of the last seven games, including the last three, is expected back in the lineup against the Wizards. Iguodala, bothered by tendinitis in his right Achilles, appeared to have a lot of bounce in his step as he engaged in an intense two-on-two after Monday's practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Coach Doug Collins anticipates that Iguodala's talent and experience will help solve the problem of the Sixers' late-game collapses by settling down the young backcourt combination of the 20-year-old Holiday and 22-year-old rookie Evan Turner.

"I think we've shown that we can play with most anybody," Collins said. "The only two games in which we were not competitive were Miami and San Antonio. I think, for us, it's continuing to play with the same kind of enthusiasm and all the things that put us in a position to have a chance to win games, and then we just have to do a better job of closing them out.

"And I'm hoping with Dre [Iguodala] coming back, it'll help us with that - not only on the defensive end and the offensive end, but as a proven guy."

Collins probably values practice more than most coaches in the league because the team is so young, especially in the backcourt. The Sixers, who broke a five-game losing streak with Friday's win over Milwaukee, are coming off back-to-back practice days.

Collins said it's a mixed blessing to go into a stretch of four games in five nights with such a young team.

"I think youth helps," he said. "But at the same time, then youth in close games can come apart just because of lack of experience. It's important to have depth and youth, and if we get Dre back then we're six deep on the perimeter and we've got three or four big guys we can mix and match. If we have to go small we can do that."

Tuesday's game will be the second for the Sixers against Washington, which pulled out a 116-115 win on Nov. 2 as the Sixers unraveled in the final minutes. It was the Sixers most gut-wrenching loss so far this season.

"Washington brings back a lot of heartaches," Collins said. "We were up six with about a minute to play and let it get away from us. It was our turnovers that night. They scored 34 points off turnovers."

Said Holiday: "We're playing against a team we think we can beat."

The Wizards played their fourth straight game without speedy guard John Wall (sprained left foot) in Sunday's overtime loss at Detroit. The No. 1 overall pick, Wall was activated before the Detroit game before it was determined he couldn't go. Wall's availability for Tuesday's game against the Sixers will likely be a game-time decision.


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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