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.