After putting up respectable numbers in the 2010-11 season (15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds per game), Brand has fallen off substantially this season (10.6 and 7.3). Part of that, however, is that the Sixers simply haven't been making him as much of a focal point in the offense all season long.
Both Brand and Collins knew this was going to be the case early in the season. He often said that he was far less concerned with his touches and his numbers in general, often noting that he's coming close to the end of a career that has seen him play 848 regular-season games but just 17 playoff games.
It was much easier to accept early on when it looked as if the Sixers were going to cruise to the Atlantic Division title. But now that winning the division is no longer viewed as a given - Boston trails the Sixers by just 11/2 games - Brand has started to show signs of coming around.
In the last nine games, Brand is shooting 54 percent (54 for 96) from the floor after shooting just 40 percent in the previous 19 games. That short jump shot that he has been able to dial for most of his career, but seemed to have been misplaced for the better part of this season, is starting to fall with more consistency.
He's also been more of a force on the boards. Over the last 13 games Brand has averaged 9.1 rebounds after averaging just 4.7 in the previous six games.
Brand was at his best on Friday in the third quarter of the Sixers' 99-86 victory over the Celtics. The victory was crucial in that it not only preserved the Sixers' lead in the Atlantic Division - the Sixers openly talk about going wire-to-wire in first place this season - but it also gave them a 2-0 mark against Boston on the season and guaranteed them the tiebreaker advantage.
Brand, who played all but 17 seconds in the quarter, scored 14 of his team-high 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
"What we've been seeing lately from Elton is Elton with bounce in his legs," Collins said after earning his 400th career coaching victory. "This is the E.B. that we have seen recently that was so good for us last year. He's vital to us, and what he does is going to help the other bigs out there."
Did you know?
Sixers opponents are averaging 16.1 fouls per game this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's on pace to smash the NBA record for the fewest fouls per game committed by a team's opponents in a single season.
In 2007-08, Minnesota's opponents averaged 17.5 fouls per game.
The Sixers are averaging just 18.1 free throws this season. The NBA record for the fewest free throws taken in a single season is 18.0, held by the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns.
Contact John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.
Read his blog at www.philly.com/deepsixer