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76ers Notebook

Collins really would prefer to give this type of talk a rest

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 21, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA - Common sense says that an older team, a team with more minutes - individually and collectively - would benefit more from two days off than a younger team. The Sixers agree. So, with two days off between Game 4 and Monday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, the Sixers believe the Celtics got a little help from the scheduling gods.

“I think it probably benefits them,’’ Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. “A couple years ago [Kevin Garnett] had played over 41,000 minutes in his career. So he’s got to be upwards of 43,000 minutes now in his career [actually 45,779]. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, these guys have played a ton of minutes.

“They’ll be ready with a lot of energy in Game 5.’’

Philadelphia also was helped by the time off. Elton Brand has been dealing with shoulder and neck injuries. Most players have some aches and pains. But more youth usually means fresher legs, and that’s a point in Philadelphia’s favor.

“When it was one game, day off, then one game, I think that was to our advantage,’’ Brand said. “These guys on their team, a lot of veterans on that team that could use the rest. It’s definitely going to help us, but it’s going to help them too for sure.’’

When the schedule came out, Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn’t happy that the early games were so close together. Of the last three games of their second-round series, though, two have the potential for two-day breaks before them - Game 5 and Game 7, should the series go that far.

“It’s a little different in the playoffs,’’ Sixers forward Andre Iguodala said. “It can benefit those guys because they have a lot more miles on their bodies. But hopefully it can benefit us. It’s just a matter of coming out and trying to impose your will on the other team.

“When you get to the playoffs, you’ve just got to go out there and have it in your mind that you’re going to hit first and you’re going to try to make your game be the game that’s going to win.’’

Collins said it wasn’t something he addressed with his team, preferring to keep the focus on his team going to Boston and being prepared, knowing the series is tied.

“That’s the way we want to approach it,’’ Collins said. “I think sometimes you start getting into all that stuff about rest, you lose the idea of going up and what you have to do. I don’t want our team to feel like Boston has any advantage because they had an extra day’s rest. I don’t want them to feel that at all.’’

Meeks breaks out

Even though Game 3 was, in many ways, a disaster for the Sixers, there was at least one benefit. Jodie Meeks, who started 50 of the Sixers’ 66 regular-season games but is now coming off the bench, was able to find his rhythm.

“He’s a strong-minded kid,’’ Iguodala said. “He comes from a strong family. I know his parents. He’s a smart guy. More than any other of the guys in the league his age, he’s further along as far as maturity, being a professional. He’s done a great job of handling himself.

“In Game 3, even though it was a blowout loss for us, he came in and played really hard, found himself a nice little rhythm, and I think it carried over into Game 4.’’

Meeks had 7 of his 9 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4, after scoring 13 in Game 3. He played just 12 minutes, almost seven of those in the fourth.

“He had two or three deflections, ran out and got on the break,’’ Collins said. “He’s a guy that at the end of the game you put him on the floor when you go to a small lineup because you have to switch a lot of things to take away threes, and he’s a free throw shooter that you can count on. For him to be able to do that was very, very important for us.”

Finding the range

Brand said the pain in his shoulder and neck has not been the biggest problem for him in the series. “The pain is there all day, all night,’’ said Brand, who is day to day. “But it’s just the lack of range of motion. That’s what we’re trying to get back.’’ Brand said the extra rest has helped . . . Given how they were able to come back and beat the Celtics Friday night, the Sixers have confidence in their ability to win the series. “Down, 3-1, with their crowd it [would have been] tough,’’ Brand said. “Historically it’s tough. A few teams have done it, but it’s tough. But 2-2, we feel good.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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