Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut


CLEVELAND — Trevor Booker made his transition to the Sixers look easy in his first 20 minutes with his new team.

The veteran forward was a highlight of the Sixers’ 105-98 loss to the Cavaliers (see observations). He came in off the bench and gave the Sixers just what they expected when they acquired him Thursday from the Nets in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. 

“What we just saw is an accurate snapshot of what he is,” Brown said. “He’s high energy. He’s got a big motor. There’s a level of maturity and toughness that we need.”

The Sixers were shorthanded in the frontcourt without Joel Embiid, who was not with the team because of his back-to-back restriction. (Embiid will play Sunday in New Orleans.) Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes were picking up the playing time, but both got in early foul trouble.

Booker was ready to go. He scored 12 points (4 for 6 from the field) and pulled down eight rebounds. Booker found himself at the right place at the right time, being a target for his teammates at the hoop.

“I think just going out there and playing with energy," Booker said, "finding easy baskets like that around the rim, those are things I have to do to get myself going and to help this team out.”

Booker is already forming chemistry with Ben Simmons, which could develop into a backcourt-frontcourt punch. Brown is excited for the younger players to share the court with the eighth-year veteran. 

“He’s a beast,” Simmons said. “I love playing with him so far. He’s a hard-working guy, he runs the floor, knows how to play the game, spaces the floor. He’s a good player.”

Booker echoed of Simmons, “He’s a tremendous passer, tremendous overall player. I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with him.”

Booker barely has had a second to catch his breath since the trade. He was in Mexico City with the Nets when he received the news. Booker estimates he got an hour of sleep Thursday night. He had to take an early morning connecting flight that eventually got him back to Brooklyn and then to Philadelphia for a physical. In a whirlwind of travel, he flew with the team Friday to Cleveland.

Still, he managed to look well rested and equally well prepared in his Sixers debut.

“Trevor can play on any team in the league,” JJ Redick said. “He’s easy to play with. He plays hard, he screens, he knows who he is, he stars in his role on a consistent basis. We’re lucky to have him.”

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

Brett Brown’s witnessed many playoff battles during his days as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

That’s when the stars shine brightest in an attempt to help their team hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. It’s also when role players get an opportunity to change the course of a series and leave an imprint that lasts a lifetime.

Think Kenny Smith’s seven three-pointers in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals, Steve Kerr’s series-sealing jumper in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals and Robert Horry in, well, too many games to count.

“Every one of my years with San Antonio, 12 of them, somebody came out of left field in one of the games for six minutes, maybe more, and had a significant impact on a win,” Brown said last week.

Sure, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are going to do the heavy lifting. But the real question is who else will make a significant contribution during those crucial postseason moments?

Robert Covington is certainly not planning to shy away from the big stage.

After three months of sliding production, the swingman has regained his shooting form at just the right time as the Sixers appear headed for their first postseason berth since 2011-12. Covington is shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range with an offensive rating of 128 in March.

“My teammates have been pretty much finding me the same shots, but I just changed up a little bit of my workout, switched it up,” Covington said after scoring 18 points (6 for 12 shooting) in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets on Monday. “That’s what allowed me to get where I’m at now. My teammates have been finding me open spots. We’ve been moving the ball really well.

“That’s just doing the right things and waiting on that moment.”

Marco Belinelli knows all about seizing that moment. He’s played — and played very well at times — over the course of 48 career playoff games.

The Sixers got a taste against the Hornets of just how much of a boost Belinelli can give a team when he’s on target. The 10-year veteran scored 21 points off the bench and contributed five of the Sixers’ 18 threes as he sharpens his game for the major challenge on the horizon.

“It’s huge,” Simmons said of finding shooters such as Belinelli and Covington in addition to JJ Redick in close games. “It’s just the way we’ve been playing all year.”

With Justin Anderson now back in the rotation and contributing, it could be the performance of secondary guys that keep the Sixers playing longer than anyone expected before the season started.

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double


Around 6 p.m., Ben Simmons spoke about mental fatigue and the frustrations it can cause. 

An hour later, he hit the court and posted an 11-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double … with zero turnovers.

“I wish he was more mentally fatigued in the future,” Brett Brown said with a laugh. 

The 21-year-old rookie may be feeling the weight of his first NBA season, but he certainly didn’t show it Monday in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets (see observations)

Simmons recorded his third triple-double in the last four games. He exhibited disciplined court vision by finding his teammates with a high level of ease and chemistry that’s been developing over the season (see highlights).

“I was trusting them to knock down shots,” Simmons simply put it. “They make it easy for me.”

Simmons became the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple-double with 15 assists and no turnovers. Only David Robinson and Andre Iguodala had reached a triple-double without an error as rookies. 

Simmons considers his assists and turnovers to be the most meaningful stats of the triple-double, noting his turnovers usually are caused by mental errors. 

"That’s amazing," Joel Embiid said. "To be able to make the right reads and not turn the ball over, there’s a few guys in the league that can do that ... that just shows you that he can be a great point guard."

The 6-foot-10 point guard is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game over 34 minutes. With each game that passes, Simmons continues to be linked with the feats of Hall of Famers. From joining in the same company as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson to moving ahead of Allen Iverson for most 10-assist games by a Sixers rookie, his performances are often tied back to historical markers. 

“I think people get caught up in how many points I score every game,” Simmons said. “It’s not about that. It’s a matter of points that we’re getting as a team and how many stops we get … 

"People are always going to say I need to do certain things but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m really good at.”