Sixers guard Louis Williams sinks two of 20 points in the second half of the Chicago Bulls 109-92 loss to the Philadelphia 76er's in game two of the first round of the NBA playoffs Tuesday May 1, 2012 at the United Center in Chicago. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
Updated: June 3, 2012 8:22AM
It was written very clearly.
Straight from the coaching mind of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doug Collins, transcribed near the top of the oversized dry erase board that was placed next to the doorway of the visiting locker room.
Positioned for every 76ers player to read.
“Emotional Onslaught = first 5 minutes’’
An erasable warning that had staying power.
This was by no means Collins’ first running of the Bulls. There had to be some sort of Derrick Rose sighting to fire-up a crowd still dealing with a post-torn-ACL malaise. Collins knew that, and he wanted his players to be prepared for the aftermath of it.
Sure enough, Rose limped out the game ball Tuesday just before the tip off, leading to what had to be the largest applause a guest ball boy has ever received.
Then came those “first 5 minutes.’’ The 76ers didn’t blink, didn’t cower, down just three points after a Carlos Boozer jumper. “Emotional Onslaught’’ be damned.
Oh, an onslaught finally came in the third quarter, but it was led by the 76ers, as they outscored the Bulls 36-14 in the period. That included public enemy No. 1 in Chicago, Evan Turner, scoring 11 while Andre Iguodala spent the night in a dunk contest where he was obviously the only contestant.
“That third quarter we played was as good a quarter as I’ve seen my team play since I’ve been the coach,’’ Collins said.
So in the wake of the 76ers’ 109-92 win, the series shifts to Philadelphia tied 1-1, the Bulls still Rose-less and Collins playing the disrespect card to perfection.
Asked if he has had to reiterate to his players not to get caught up in the idea that the Bulls will be without Rose, Collins responded, “Like I said, are we favored to win the series now?’’
When the replay was a “probably not,’’ Collins said, “That’s your answer. I would think that if [the Bulls are] still favored to win the series, we better play our ass off.’’
At least in Game 2, put a check next to the “asses played off.’’
But before Bulls fans start selling their Game 5 tickets on StubHub in disgust of what they believe might be the inevitable, a word of caution: Collins is still the coach on the opposing bench. His history is turning a franchise around but not getting it over the hump. He’s more bus driver than championship pedigree. He’ll take you to a stop that’s close to home, but inevitably you’ll need someone else to get you to the front door.
The hope for the Bulls is that history repeats itself beginning Friday.
That means Collins has the next two days to come up with more coachspeak for his players, more sayings of motivation.
They survived the “Emotional Onslaught.’’
But that dry board isn’t going to fill itself.