Sixers taking care of business by taking care of the ball

The Sixers' Thaddeus Young shoulders the Wizards' Rashard Lewis off the ball on Saturday.
The Sixers' Thaddeus Young shoulders the Wizards' Rashard Lewis off the ball on Saturday. (NICK WASS / Associated Press)
Posted: January 16, 2012

In emphasizing his disdain for turnovers, 76ers coach Doug Collins used a football comparison to stress the importance of taking care of the ball.

Whatever comparison he's using, the message has clearly reached the players. There are many reasons for the Sixers' 9-3 start, but the ability to take care of the ball ranks at the top.

The Sixers entered Sunday leading the NBA in committing fewest turnovers per game, 12.5. They committed just eight in Saturday's 103-90 win over the Washington Wizards.

Before Saturday's win, Collins pointed out regular season NFL statistics to make his point to the team about the importance of limiting turnovers and painfully, one of the chief offenders was the Eagles.

"I put on the board, 'San Francisco 10 turnovers, the Eagles 38, and the Cowboys 21' and asked, 'Which team is in the playoffs and who won today?' " Collins said after Saturday's win outside the locker room at the Verizon Center.

The answer of course was San Francisco, which forced 38 turnovers, committed just 10 in the regular season for a plus 28. Dallas indeed had 21 turnovers, but was at least a plus-four after forcing 25.

The Eagles?

They committed 38, as Collins noted and had 24 takeaways for a minus-14 differential.

Not to digress too much to the NFL, but Collins will use any vehicle to make his point about turnovers.

"I am a big stickler on turnovers," said Collins, whose team hosts the Milwaukee Bucks in a 2 p.m. matinee on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. "I think when you turn the ball over nothing good happens, and our guys take it to heart."

And long before Saturday's pregame talk, he has been making the Sixers aware of the importance of not being careless with the ball.

"This is something the coaches have been preaching the last one and a half years, that you've got to take care of the ball," Sixers swingman Andre Iguodala said. "We don't have a superstar, as some would say, so we don't get the foul calls and whistles as much as teams that have one. So we have to do the little things right, which is take care of the ball and defensively, try to get after the ball."

The Sixers have done that as well, forcing 16 turnovers per game for a differential of plus 3.5.

Collins said one of the main reasons the Sixers got off to such a rocky start last year, was naturally due to turnovers.

"A big part of us starting out 3-13 last year was that opponents were shooting 31 free throws against us and we were turning over the ball 16 times a night," Collins said.

The turnovers are down and opponents are averaging 20.3 free throws per game. It doesn't take a football analogy to see how the Sixers success is linked to their decreased turnover total.

Notes: Milwaukee (4-7) expects the services of center Andrew Bogut, who was cleared on Sunday morning and practiced with the team, according to a Bucks officials in an e-mail response. Bogut suffered concussion-like symptoms in Thursday's win over Detroit and didn't play in Friday's loss at Dallas. . . . Also, according to the Bucks, guard Beno Udrih (left shoulder sprain) practiced on Sunday and will be a game-time decision. Mike Dunleavy (groin) and Luc Mbah a Moute (right knee tendinitis) are both out.

The Sixers had off from practice on Sunday after playing seven games in the previous nine days and going 6-1. . . . The Sixers have won eight of their last nine and are 5-0 at home.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, 856-779-3225 or @sjnard on Twitter.

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