PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins believes that the compressed 66-game schedule will actually make teams fresher in the postseason than they would be during a normal regular season.
"I think every coach in this league is so sensitive to the schedule," Collins said after the 76ers' shootaround before they take on the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. "The other day when I sat down with our guys, there were 52 games left at that time, in 97 days. In actuality, guys are going to be fresher to play the playoffs than they are the regular season because there are going to be days off between games. And there's not going to be as much compressed.
"I'm sure from a lot of these coaches' standpoint, especially teams that feel like they have a chance to win a championship, as much as they want to grind it and everything, let's make sure we're healthy and ready going into the playoffs and then be rested."
The former Bulls coach admitted that the schedule has played a part in how he evaluates his team on a day-to-day basis.
"Where I've noticed it is the execution," he said. "And you just don't have time to practice. You worry about injuries. You worry about guys getting mentally tired. And so we've really tried to do a job on that as much as we can. Just keep our guys mentally fresh and our mantra here is sort of, 'Fresh legs, fresh minds.' And if you do that, let's go out and play and maybe you can make up for some slippage in some execution by just playing hard and getting the loose balls and playing collectively every single night. And that's what we try to do."
Collins wasn't complaining, he was just mentioning a lot of the fears coaches all over the league have. Any injury becomes much more magnified because of the lockout-shortened slate.
"It is a factor," he said. "Because normally in a two-week period of time you might maybe have played six games. Now in two weeks, you might have played 10. And so if a guy goes down, instead of six games, you miss 10. More importantly, if you've got a little homestand it could be devastating. We've had very little practice time. I'm sure from [Bulls coach] Tommy [Thibodeau]'s standpoint he's looking about playing into June. So he's got to be very smart with his guys about keeping them fresh. Which is what we've tried to do."
Collins was very complimentary about his old team and the job Thibodeau has done this season. He also is a big fan of Derrick Rose.
"I'm sure Tommy loves practicing and playing with those guys every night because he knows that they're playing to win," Collins said. "I think it starts with Tom. And I think Derrick Rose is an amazing young guy. I marvel every time I watch him on tape. As a coach, he scares you because [you think] 'How are you going to slow this guy down?' And his competitive will ... When I talk to [Bulls Executive VP John Paxson] the thing that Pax even says over and over again is how blessed they are because he's a better kid than he is player. And that's a hell of a thing to say when you're the MVP of the NBA."
Collins believes that the Bulls have a solid chance to make it all the way to the NBA Finals this year. He believes that the Bulls, who come into Wednesday night's game against the 76ers with a league-leading 18-5 record, have shown they can handle the condensed schedule better than most.
"For a team like Chicago, they're proving they're a great road team," Collins said. "When I used to do TV ... I used to look at what I would consider the power teams. And what I would look at would be, No. 1, is your point differential, of which they're very high. No. 2, your field-goal percentage differential. No. 3, your road record. And No. 4, do you have a star that can go on the road and break through in a playoff series? And they have all those things."