"The one thing I don't want our guys to ever do is feel comfortable in losing, where you get beat down and all of the sudden losing just becomes a part of your DNA," said Collins, whose team starts a three-game road trip Wednesday in Charlotte.
"We've had 2 really good years where we got into the playoffs, played 18 playoff games. I'll never forget Jrue's [Holiday] first playoff game going in there in Miami and playing his first game and having no turnovers. And [him] having an incredible game and us having a great series against them, and then finishing up strong last year and getting into the playoffs and obviously getting a couple of breaks with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, but winning that series and then going to Boston. I think our guys have learned what winning is all about, which I think is important.
One thing that you always have to know is that if this [season] was a blip in the radar it was because there was some extenuating circumstances that came about that we didn't have any control over.
But we can't put together 2 years in a row like that because then all of the sudden you start missing the playoffs 2, 3, 4 years in a row and that losing jumps up on you and pretty soon you find ways to lose. We have winning players, guys who want to win, who know how to win and we're going to continue to teach that."
Learning to win is like learning lessons on the court, sort of like muscle memory. The more you do something, like a little kid shooting a lefthanded layup jumping off his right foot, the more familiar it becomes. The same can be said of losing. That's why winning is so important to this franchise right now, no matter who of this current group of coaches and players returns next season.
"It's all about just going out there and doing our job," said forward Thaddeus Young. "We feel we have to go out there and do our job. This is the game that we love so much. This is our life. I don't think if we don't make the playoffs it's going to take any energy away from us or anything like that. We're all still having open minds and still listening to coach and still going out there and playing for each other. The intensity level is up. We're still going hard, we're still practicing hard and going about it as if it was any other day. We're going to go in and try to win some games on this road trip."
Coach and players agree.
"Were 7-4 in the last 11 and we've had a tough loss to Miami and one with Denver," said Collins. "Obviously the clock is ticking, but as long as you keep winning you keep giving yourself a chance. We've got Charlotte on Wednesday and obviously our schedule is very tough with seven road games and two home [remaining].
"I'm really happy. Our guys [Monday] had a spirited scrimmage. I gave them Sunday off and I gave them [Tuesday] off. I just think that at this point of the year it's important to have fresh minds and fresh legs. We've got three games in 4 nights so I want our guys to be fresh and give ourselves every chance. I really like the way we're approaching things. I think our guys have been incredibly professional.
"We've settled into a nice little playing stretch here where our guys are really helping each other and how often we've picked up the stat sheet after the game and you have five or six guys in double figures, you've got 28 to 30 assists. The one abnormality in that was the game in Utah where we only had nine but we've shared the ball, the ball has moved and the guys have had fun playing and it's been fun to coach."
On Twitter: @BobCooney76