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Sixers 93, Wolves 91: Don’t boo Robert Covington

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

He laid on his back in exhausted jubilation. Robert Covington, plagued by 3–13 shooting from the field and 1-9 shooting from three-point land all evening, finally was serenaded by a chorus of Wells Fargo Center cheers on Tuesday evening.

He curled off a screen from Joel Embiid, caught a lob from Dario Saric mid-air, and banked home the game-winning layup to power the Sixers past the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-91.

“These fans are going to boo all they want, I’m still going to play as hard as I can.” Covington told CSN Philly after the game.

Stop booing Robert Covington.

His stroke from deep as been painfully and obviously erratic this season, shooting 28% from downtown. But his strengths as a slasher have continued to benefit the Sixers’ offense, as has his developing off-the-dribble game and improving finishing ability around the rim.

Stop booing Robert Covington.

The swingman has morphed into an elite wing defender. He grabbed 10 rebounds—9 curtailing Minnesota possessions on the defense end—collected 4 steals and delivered a crucial crunch time block on Andrew Wiggins. He’s averaging a career-high in blocks this season. Covington ranks third in the entire NBA in total deflections. He’s an absolute nuisance for opposing wings to deal with. No dribble drive is safe from Covington sliding over from the weak side and poking your handle clean.

Stop booing Robert Covington.

I believe the three-point stroke will return. And even if it doesn’t, Covington has emerged as a tenacious enough defender where that’s still ok. A longer, stronger Tony Allen with the ability to guard 1-4 who can shoot a baseline 28 percent from three is a perennial All-NBA candidate and a 10-year starter in the league.

Stop booing Robert Covington.

NOTES

  • With just over 9 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Embiid head-faked Zach LaVine out of his shoes, drove and kicked to Nerlens Noel, who promptly twisted a pass around Minnesota’s defense back to Embiid. He was fouled, drained both free throws and motioned for the crowd to crescendo their cheers of “Trust The Process.”

We didn’t see Noel again until the fourth quarter. This pairing is far from a trainwreck offensively and was an absolutely terror on the defensive end. We’ve had our taste. Now we want the whole damn pie.

  • The Sixers built a large lead well into the 20s, and it quickly began to evaporate as Jahlil Okafor took the floor. I’m not harping on it anymore. I said at the draft I would have swapped him to Chicago for the No. 14 pick and many laughed at the return. It doesn’t look so bad now.
  • Timothe Luwawu is an NBA player. He will be a good NBA player. He may one day be a very good NBA player. His defensive footwork on the perimeter is already making prolific strides from the beginning of the season. He’s grasping NBA defensive rotations and team schemes. Hollis Thompson’s minutes have suffered as a result, but I’m all for the TLC project.
  • Stop booing Robert Covington.