With coach Doug Collins on his way out, the Sixers might have a little more motivation to win down the stretch.
A day after Collins reportedly decided he won't return for a fourth season in Philadelphia, the Sixers look to give their coach a strong finish as they visit the Pistons on Monday night in the penultimate game for both teams.
Collins hadn't made it longer than three seasons in previous coaching stops in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, and it appears that trend will hold true in Philadelphia. After a disappointing season in which the Sixers (33-47) never got prized offseason addition Andrew Bynum on the floor, the veteran coach who was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1973 draft by Philadelphia apparently will step down after the final two games.
That news came down late Sunday, hours after Collins' agent tried to diffuse the blossoming speculation by saying after the 76ers' 91-77 home finale win over Cleveland that his client would be back for the final year of his contract.
"I'd give (owner) Josh (Harris) and our organization a lot of credit, they swung for the fences (with the Bynum trade)," Collins said after Sunday's victory. "Unfortunately with Andrew getting hurt ... it changed the whole dynamic of our season."
Reports suggested management wanted Collins to return, and it's possible he may stay with the franchise in some capacity.
Collins, who had his 2013-14 option picked up during training camp, is 109-119 with Philadelphia. Thaddeus Young had 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals in the win over Cleveland, and Dorell Wright added 15 points off the bench.
The Sixers, who won five of their final six at home, surely would love to get two more victories for their departing coach, but the Pistons (28-52) aren't mailing it in either. Detroit went 1-13 in March but has opened April with four wins in six games, including three straight for the first time since a season-high four-game winning streak from Dec. 28-Jan. 4.
It's been an encouraging stretch, thanks in large part to contributions from the Pistons' bench. Jonas Jerebko scored 17 of his 21 points in the second quarter Friday against Charlotte, and Will Bynum added 15 points and 10 assists in a 113-93 win.
Jerebko barely played for a two-month stretch beginning in late November, but he's been making the most of his minutes lately, shooting 60.6 percent from the field over his last eight games and scoring at least 15 points five times.
"He's comfortable," said Bynum, who has totaled 31 points and 13 assists while going 12 for 20 from the field in his last two. "He knows he's getting minutes, the opportunity is there, and he's just being aggressive."
These teams have split two meetings this season, both in Philadelphia. Pistons center Greg Monroe has averaged 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in the series.
Detroit rookie center Andre Drummond, one of the bright spots for the Pistons this season, could miss the home finale after rolling his ankle in the fourth quarter Friday.