In 1973, Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford starred in a movie called “The Way we Were”. It was nominated for a few Oscars and won one for Best Original Song: “The Way we Were” sung by Streisand, herself.
After the Sixers lost Game 1 against the Celtics by 16 at TD Garden, I played that song after the game. The song has a couples connotation but my thoughts were about a particular person: Robert Covington.
What is going on with Lord Covington?
How long ago was it when we were ridiculously excited about Covington’s blazing start to the season? In October and November, Covington shot 65 of 156 (42%) from three. “Rock” was given new money with a four-year, $62 million extension. We were all happy.
“Can it be that it was all so simple then?”
Covington has been up and down all year, and it seems like the Sixers are dealing with a period of down. In April, Covington has been dreadful from beyond (31%). It goes without saying that this is happening at the worst possible time: playoffs.
In the Sixers first round series against Miami, Covington scored only 9.4 ppg shooting 34% from the field and 38% from three. Last night’s game one didn’t exactly generate confidence. Covington was 0 for 6 from the field and 0 for 4 from three — causing a Bostonian friend of mine to send a text paraphrasing the movie “Home Alone”:
“Adio. Your small forward. Woof.”
Thankfully, that wasn’t exclusively his trademark. The 6’9” Covington possesses some “D” in “3 and D”. He’s one of the Sixers’ best wing defenders (103 DRtg, 4.5 DWS, 2.1 DBPM) and led the NBA in deflections with 312. Last night’s Game 1 was one to forget.
Covington spent the majority of his evening guarding Boston’s Terry Rozier III — who is on his NBA Jam “he’s on fire” tip thus far in these playoffs. Rozier scored 11 of his 29 points against Covington and hit three of his four threes with him defending. (Let’s be honest, though. Rozier was toasting just about everyone last night.)
RoCo just didn’t look like himself last night on the defensive end. For example, this layup scored by Jayson Tatum shows … less than optimal defense by Covington.
Covington hurting the defense big time pic.twitter.com/ceeNlJCRux— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) May 1, 2018
Yesterday, Enemy of the Process Bill Simmons commented on his podcast that Covington may be the piece they have to improve for the Sixers to take the next level. He called Covington the “weak link” on this roster, and that an upgrade (like Paul George, for example) elevates the Sixers immensely.
Personally, I’m not there yet. Is Covington having a crappy stretch at the most inconvenient period? Absolutely. The sample size is pretty small, however. There have only been seven games in April, and the Sixers did just have six days off whereas the Celtics played on Saturday night.
There is something to be said about rhythm and the natural flow of basketball. Now that the Sixers are back in a regular period of playing meaningful games (versus just practice), the flow should come back to everyone on both sides of the court.
Brett Brown continues to be a great coach and will make adjustments. Covington won’t throw up bricks like he’s at a mason’s convention. Hopefully that extends to the entire team that shot 19% from three last night. Covington will also more than likely get back to his old self on defense.
When commenting on yesterday’s Liberty Ballers Round 2 Round Table, I noted that Covington was the player that had to have a better series. He didn’t get off to the best start last night, so we just have to hope that the countering upswing is on its way and soon.