Sixers have plenty left in reserve tank

Coach Doug Collins has strategically leaned heavily on his second unit, with Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams leading the way. It’s paid off as the Sixers have the highest-scoring bench in the league.

“For that to happen, you had to have guys like Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, who are such terrific players, be willing to accept that role of coming in off the bench,” Collins said. “It doesn’t do me any good to have this master plan if those guys don’t believe in it.”

Young and Williams are more than sold on their roles, not once griping about being on the second unit. Young said it would be “weird” to be a starter again, while Williams takes pride in being a go-to scorer in crunch time.

“We didn’t say anything like we want to be the best bench in the league or anything like that, we just want to come in and be great for the team and I think it just happened,” Young said. “We all take our different roles and just combine it into one and make sure we get a lot of good things out of it.”

But when the second unit doesn’t live up to expectations, it can cost the Sixers’ games. The Mavericks’ bench outscored the Sixers, 54-29, in Tuesday night’s narrow loss.

“We think that if we win the battle of the bench, that is a huge advantage,” Collins said. “Normally, we win that battle — and [Tuesday] we did not.”

Brand playing through the pain

Elton Brand is a warrior. So much so that he’s willing to play with a dislocated shooting finger.

Brand hurt his right pinkie finger in each of the last two games, but there is no fracture and he plans to play through the pain. He’ll be wearing a splint when the team takes on Minnesota. Brand said it hurts more when he has to catch the ball.

“Elton is a warrior,” coach Doug Collins told reporters Thursday. “He wants to rip that splint off, but we have to keep it on his hand because if he gets hit again, it will dislocate.”

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