76ers not cashing in yet, Doug Collins says

Forward Arnett Moultrie (center) is one of the younger Sixers who could get more playing time with 24 games remaining.    RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Forward Arnett Moultrie (center) is one of the younger Sixers who could get more playing time with 24 games remaining.    RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: March 06, 2013

The 76ers are 12 games under .500 with 24 to play, and even an optimist would say a playoff berth is unlikely.

So, is this the time to work in some younger players such as forward Arnett Moultrie? Or should the team still aggressively pursue every win?

In the eyes of coach Doug Collins, it's actually both, with the primary emphasis on winning.

Even after playing back-to-back games - Saturday's home win over Golden State and Sunday's 90-87 loss in Washington - the Sixers were back at practice on Monday.

Does that sound like a team looking toward next season?

Collins said the Sixers will do everything to win each game, refusing to sacrifice any result for the future.

"I have never been in that situation," he said. "I don't even know what it means."

He is concerned only with the remaining games on the schedule, starting with Tuesday's matchup with the Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center.

"That is foreign to me," he said about not trying to win every game. "I always know [if] there is a game to be played, win it. As a coach, you are taught to do that."

Collins said it is possible to achieve balance in winning that next game while developing young players such as Moultrie.

"I think you can get guys into the game and rotation and still have that same mentality," he said. "I have never been one to think another way."

Some may suggest that losing would be better for the Sixers' lottery chances, but this is a year without a game-changer in the draft. And even if there was, Collins said he would not change his stance.

This has been a highly disappointing season. Center Andrew Bynum has not played because of knee injuries, and the chances that he will see the court this season lessen each day.

The Sixers trail Milwaukee by seven games for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

"It is kind of hard to come out each and every game and . . . be positive about things when you lose so many games," said Thaddeus Young, one of the bright spots this season, averaging 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds. "But at the end of the day, that is what we have to do."

Like their coach, the players insist that winning the next game is all that matters.

All-star guard Jrue Holiday said that the team is still competing in every game. A recent exception was a 98-84 loss to visiting Orlando on Feb. 26, after which Collins criticized his team's effort.

"We are still fighting," said Holiday, who is averaging 19.1 points and 8.5 assists. "All right, there was that Orlando game - you can wipe that one out. But I really feel we fight and come to play every game."

Notes

Boston (31-27) has not played since a 94-86 win over visiting Golden State on Friday. . . . Sixers guard Nick Young did not practice and will miss his third consecutive game with a left ankle sprain, a team official said. . . . Among his team's most devastating losses, Collins said, was a 94-92 decision at Milwaukee on Feb. 13 that gave the Bucks a three-games-to-none lead in the season series. It was the final game before the all-star break. "You win that game going into the break and it's a nice springboard - and we lost that knowing we lost the tiebreaker," Collins said. . . . The Sixers have lost eight of their last nine.


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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