Earlier in the week when Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins told reporters that Andres Nocioni and Tony Battie could see a little more playing time over the last 12 games of the season, it was somewhat dismissed as mere lip service to the two classy veterans.
To that point, Nocioni had only played in 45 games and Battie had only seen time in 36. Some of that was due to injuries, but it was also because Collins simply decided not to play them.
Collins was quoted as saying that the reason he hadn't played the two very much this season was to keep them fresh for the stretch run and the playoffs. While that sounds good in theory, I find it hard to believe Collins would keep players on the bench if he truly believed they could help the team win.
However, the last two games have seen Coach Collins lean a little more on Nocioni and less on Evan Turner.
With Andre Iguodala out Sunday in Portland, Collins decided to start Turner in his absence, only to give him just 17 minutes of play because of foul trouble. It didn't help that Turner provided half as many turnovers (three) as points scored (six).
Then, last night's game against Atlanta saw Nocioni come off the bench first and play a total of 15 minutes, while Turner played only four.
It's only two games, so it might be a little early to jump to conclusions, but then again it could be a sign that Collins really does intend on relying on Nocioni in close games down the stretch.
It's understandable that Collins would believe in the toughness and playoff experience of Nocioni over the inexperience of Turner. Nocioni has been to the playoffs three times, as well as being on Argentinian teams that won gold and bronze medals at the previous two Olympics.
While Nocioni may not have the upside or future potential of Evan Turner, the missed assignments and turnovers Turner has made as a rookie are much more costly at this point in the season.
Given the amount of praise that Doug Collins has given Turner for his growth over the season, I'm sure he will still see his fair share of playing time off the bench.
But the time for teaching is over.
This is the time of year where toughness and experience are crucial to success, which is why you shouldn't be surprised if come playoff time you start to see a little more Nocioni and a little less Turner.
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