Sixers' Collins would like Holiday to be more aggressive

The Sixers' Jrue Holiday (11) tries to defend against the Celtics' Rajon Rondo. Coach Doug Collins would like Holiday to shoot more rather than playing the passing game like Rondo, Boston's point guard.    RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
The Sixers' Jrue Holiday (11) tries to defend against the Celtics' Rajon Rondo. Coach Doug Collins would like Holiday to shoot more rather than playing the passing game like Rondo, Boston's point guard.    RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: May 24, 2012

When Jrue Holiday takes just one shot in the second half of any game, 76ers coach Doug Collins sees a red flag while checking the box score.

Such was the case when Collins looked at the wreckage that was the Sixers' 101-85 loss to Boston on Monday, a setback that gave the Celtics a three-games-to-two lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series and pushed the Sixers within one game of elimination.

Not long after he noticed the 15 turnovers that led to 18 Boston points, and perhaps not long after he looked at the free-throw disparity between the Celtics (26 of 33) and the Sixers (10 of 16), Collins probably saw that Holiday, after making all but one of his four shots in the first quarter, played a passive game.

Holiday, the Sixers' leading scorer this postseason with a 15.5-point average, played the entire first quarter. And Collins liked what he saw from him. But it was the rest of the game, the other 23-plus minutes that Holiday logged, that didn't sit well with the coach.

"He's our leading scorer," Collins said after a team film session Tuesday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "He was 3 for 4 at the end of the first quarter and shot just two more shots the rest of the game. I've got to have him in the mode of looking to shoot the ball."

In a perfect world for the Sixers, Holiday plays Wednesday night the way he did in Game 2 of the Chicago series, when he finished with 26 points and six assists in a 109-92 rout.

"I have to be more aggressive looking for my shot," Holiday said.

Perhaps too often, Holiday exhibits a reluctance to take over games. He has a pure point guard's mind-set in that he would rather set up his teammates - something Boston guard Rajon Rondo, his counterpart, could very well be the best in the league at doing.

But it has been well documented how much the Sixers struggle to create offense at times. That situation becomes magnified when they are not getting to the free-throw line and their opposition is keeping them out of transition, two things the Celtics did very well in taking the 3-2 series lead Monday in Boston.

The Celtics don't want the Sixers to penetrate. They want them to stand outside and shoot jumpers, and in games that they lose, they are too compliant in this area. When the Celtics run under the pick-and-roll, it is an open invitation for the Sixers to squeeze the trigger from long distance.

However, if they attack the basket, which Collins wants them doing much more often than they have been, the Sixers will have opportunities to get offensive rebounds - the one thing they clearly do better than the Celtics.

This is another area where Holiday can be a difference-maker.

"I thought there were a couple of times where he penetrated looking to pass that I would rather he had shot the ball," Collins said. "I mean, at least it gives us a chance to offensive-rebound the ball. To get the ball up there on the rim, it at least gives us a chance. He knows I need him to think 'score' because we bleed sometimes out there to get a hoop. I need him to get to that basket."


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.

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