Holiday's adjustments prove beneficial to Sixers

Posted: March 14, 2013

IT WAS A slight little change that made all the difference. While Doug Collins has been shuffling his lineup and rotation more often than a card dealer does his deck, a minor adjustment made by the point guard helped the Sixers post their most impressive effort in quite some time on Monday, when they defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 106-97.

Jrue Holiday made the All-Star team by leading the Sixers in scoring and assists, by making big shots when they were needed and proving himself to be one of the most improved outside shooters at the position in the NBA. But a recent shooting slump and questionable decision-making made Holiday reel in his game a little bit on Monday. Gone were the forced drives to the basket that sometimes resulted in wayward passes and forced shots. The dreaded one-handed passes - especially those thrown across the court - were kept in check for the evening. In all, Holiday let the play come to him, looked for the pass first and cut short his dribble drives by at least one dribble and instead threw crisp passes to the outside that often resulted in either an open shot or was the first of a few passes that led to openings.

Holiday still ended with 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting, made his lone three-pointer and got to the foul line eight times. He dealt 11 assists, but, almost more important, turned the ball over only once. Perhaps it's the start of something good for a Sixers team that won for only the second time in 14 games. And because of Holiday's adjusted syle, five other players hit double figures in scoring as the team shot 52.6 percent and posted its highest point total since Jan. 18. It also helped get Evan Turner going for a game as he rang up 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

"We're trying to play a little quicker, get the ball up the floor, get it moving, rather than just dribble it up and use so much clock with the dribble, move it from side to side a little bit more," Collins said. "A little bit like we tried to play last year.

"You've just to keep working hard and making your own opportunities, and the one thing you don't want to do is try to do too much on your own. Just trust everybody and usually that helps. Both those guys [Holiday and Turner] have a lot of pressure on them. We expect a lot out of them and they're young and really they've assumed positions that they've never done before where they've stepped up because of guys being off the team now. Last year, Evan was playing 27 minutes and coming off the bench until the playoffs, and now he's playing 36. Jrue's playing 38 and he's an All-Star, and so things get ratcheted up."

And while toning it down a little bit seemed to help Holiday against the Nets, Collins would never try to pull in the reins on his players in any way.

"Not if I'm the coach," Collins said. "That's the one thing I always tell our guys, be aggressive. There's not a guy in that locker room that can't ever say I didn't tell them to shoot. And if you miss, shoot again, as long as it's a good one. I firmly believe that. I had coaches that coached me [that way]. I shot myself in and out of a slump sometimes on a daily basis. You've got to trust and you've got to believe it. As a coach, they know I'm going to believe in them, they're going to be out there, they're going to play. You just got to keep playing."

They have no choice, and Wednesday they'll host the scorching Miami Heat, which has won 19 in a row and just defeated the Sixers in Miami on Friday by 102-93.

"Recordwise, we're not necessarily a good team, so we should be playing hard every night," said Damien Wilkins, who scored 13 points in his starting role on Monday. "Even if we were the No. 1 seed in the East, I think we still should all strive hard to play hard every night. That's what we owe to ourselves; we owe that to the fans, to the organization. You can't teach effort, and I think these guys in this locker room want to go out there and play hard every night. It's just a matter of us doing it consistently."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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