On yet another evening where it seemed that injuries would derail the Sixers, as they came into the Barclays Center as three-point underdogs to the lowly Nets, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot put together his finest all-around effort this season (17 points, nine rebounds) in the Sixers 106, 101 win, a victory that was very much not needed.
Luwawu-Cabarrot’s strides have been profound this year. I’m surprised he spent so much time up with the Sixers as opposed to down in Delaware with the 87ers. I thought he’d be riding the Lonzo Brown Memorial Bus up-and-down I-95 all season, but he kept himself on Brett Brown’s roster with good defensive effort and brief flashes as a cutter offensively.
His shot has been as inconsistent as one would expect for a player coming over from the Adriatic League in Serbia as a rookie. He shot 29.4 percent from three (51 attempts) before March, but his four-for-10 effort tonight from deep brings his March numbers up to 33.9 percent (56 attempts). There’s so much noise in three-point numbers, certainly, but Luwawu-Cabarrot’s shot looked smooth all night with his elbows locked in tight on his way to making several winning plays.
He’s increasing his basketball IQ as well. With just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Dario Saric found him for a cross-court pass out of the post. Luwawu-Cabarrot originally had an open three before Brooklyn’s defense closed out. He smartly pump-faked the defender and drew contact while dribbling, getting himself to the free throw line for two points since the Nets were in the bonus. This is certainly a move the Frenchman wouldn’t have made in December or even January.
Luwawu-Cabarrot’s defense wasn’t exactly spectacular last night, as neither team really gave defense a second thought, but he did record a block and a steal each. He has improved on that side of the court as well, a topic Derek Bodner went in-depth on in his weekly column Patreon column, which I assume you all are subscribing to, yesterday. Lineups next season featuring the likes of Luwawu-Cabarrot, T.J. McConnell and Robert Covington, as well as a healthy Joel Embiid, could be the best defense this city’s seen since Jim Johnson was dialing up safety blitzes for Brian Dawkins.
- Dario Saric put forth what now feels like a routine 23-point, seven-rebound performance. His quick and effortless passing while in the paint conjures up images of European big men Vlade Divac, who actually used to be an excellent player before he became a joke to Sixers fans, and Marc Gasol. He took some of Gasol’s Memphis-brand Grit N’ Grind style with him to the low post, where he consistently bullied Trevor Booker and the Nets for hard-earned baskets. Saric’s three-point shot ( a poor one-for-six tonight) remains his lone offensive blemish during the second half of this season. Oh, yeah, he also got some “M-V-P!” chants from the Philly fans in attendance tonight.
- Robert Covington’s 21 points and 13 rebounds gave him his third 20-point, 10-rebound game of the month. Someone get this guy a new bed to roll out of every morning!
- RIchaun Holmes has done well while making the most of his opportunities this month, starting in place of the injured Embiid and Jahlil Okafor and the now-departed Nerlens Noel, but he’s still leaving a ton to be desired on defense. He’s made some flashy blocks in March, but tends to try to block shots too hard, putting himself in poor positioning. His one-on-one defense and rebounding need to improve substantially as well. He’s played well offensively, and looks like he could possibly be a good defensive player one day, but people should take it down a notch when saying he’s a comparable defender to Noel.