What Collins has learned about the Sixers, who enter Friday's meeting with the same record as the Celtics (10-8), is that they have gotten up for the teams with winning records (Oklahoma City) and the Celtics, whom they defeated last month at Boston, 106-100.
In that game, the Sixers turned in one of their more balanced efforts. Evan Turner finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday acquitted himself well against Rajon Rondo, finishing with 21 points and 14 assists (with seven turnovers).
But the Sixers, who lost to Western Conference champ Oklahoma City in overtime when the teams met at the Wells Fargo Center two days after Thanksgiving, have played poorly against some of the league's dregs. They ended eight- and six-game losing streaks for teams like Detroit and Cleveland.
Following the Sixers' 105-88 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday, Holiday admitted that the Sixers have taken some lesser opponents less seriously.
"I guess so; I think so," said Holiday, second in the NBA in assists (9.3) and the Sixers' leading scorer (18.2). "I think there are times when you know you are going up against the premier teams or the best players, when you just step up because you know you have to. It's a lot more motivating, but we can't have that mind-set.
"Even though Detroit had lost eight straight they had been in pretty much every game," Holiday continued. "It's not like they were getting blown out. And the Timberwolves shot the lights out. So we can't go into games that way."
The Sixers will need little motivation against Boston, which prevented the Sixers from reaching the Eastern Conference finals last May for what would have been their first trip back there since 2001.
"It becomes a little bit of a playoff situation where you see the same team like that," Collins said of the Friday and Saturday games against Boston.
Notes. Swingman Nick Young is a game-time decision Friday. He has missed the last two games with a left great toe hyperextension. . . . Guard Royal Ivey is out with a strained right groin. . . . Center Kwame Brown is probable after missing practice with a stomach virus.
Contact John N. Mitchell at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.