76ers

Corey Brewer frustrates James Harden, earns cult hero status

Corey Brewer frustrates James Harden, earns cult hero status

It seemed like Corey Brewer had a smile on his face from the moment Brett Brown told him he’d be starting through his postgame availability.

Then again, in the short time he’s been around, it seems like this might just be the kind of guy Brewer is.

Signed last Tuesday to a 10-day contract by the Sixers, his eighth NBA team, Brewer was out there for anyone to snag. The 32-year-old wing has championship experience and started every game of a playoff series for the Thunder just a little under nine months ago.

But up until last week, he was on his couch. In Monday's win over the Rockets (see observations), he was starting in place of All-Star Jimmy Butler for a team with championship aspirations and asked to guard the most unguardable human on the planet.

I was happy. I get to play basketball. I’ve been sitting down, playing with my kids. I’ve been playing superheroes every day. I was really happy to get to play basketball. I’m a competitor. I love when I get to have a matchup like James Harden. It’s great. Let’s go.

As glad as Brewer was to be out there, this didn’t seem like an ideal matchup. 

Harden came to the Wells Fargo Center Monday looking like the NBA’s clear MVP favorite — and it doesn’t seem particularly close. He’s been playing on another planet from the rest of the league.

But for how pleasant Brewer was during his pre- and postgame availability, there was definitely a different guy out there getting in the grill of the league’s most dominant offensive player. It was clear Brewer’s goal was to frustrate Harden.

Mission accomplished.

He had some tenacity. There was swagger there,” Brown said. “I think Corey just set the stage. He set the table that spilt over with a pretty solid 48-minute performance defensively on [Harden]. For him to [finish] with eight free throws in itself is a good accomplishment.

Sure, Harden still poured in 37 points, but Brewer and company clearly got under his skin. 

There were multiple possessions in which Harden grew visibly annoyed by his former teammate in the second quarter. After the second such instance, Harden was whistled for a foul, much to the delight of the Wells Fargo Center crowd.

The fans were so appreciative that a “Cor-ey Brew-er” chant broke out. Signed to a 10-day deal and playing in just his second game, Brewer is already a cult hero in Philadelphia.

It’s Philly. They hate you or love you. I’m glad they’re on my side right now,” Brewer said. “I fit right in, I feel. We got everything — we’ve got a guy like Jimmy, a guy like Ben [Simmons], we’ve got [Joel Embiid]. Everybody else, we just gotta try to fit in. It’s all about getting to the next level, and that’s getting to the Finals.

It’s amazing that a player with Brewer’s résumé was just sitting out there. The biggest knock on him is his inability to hit threes. Basketball has shifted to such a three-heavy sport — Harden being a prime example — that Brewer’s career 28 percent mark from three perhaps overshadowed his value.

You saw that value Monday. He’s a crazy long athlete that loves to defend. Brown mentioned when they signed Brewer that he envisioned the veteran wing flying down the court with Simmons in transition.

Well …

This all begs the question: How the hell was this dude out there?

“Isn’t that what life’s all about? You get an opportunity and you hope to deliver. He did deliver,” Brown said. “I think that's what stands out most to me is you have to imagine when you’re not with a team and you’re trying to get back in the league, what you have to do physically to come out and play 34 minutes … 

“He’s good people and I’m thrilled he had the opportunity and to live it like he did.”

With how he performed Monday, Brewer certainly earned more opportunities.

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Actual NBA players hilariously voted for these 6 Sixers to make All-Star Game — which is a problem

Actual NBA players hilariously voted for these 6 Sixers to make All-Star Game — which is a problem

The NBA released the All-Star Game voting results on Thursday and as expected, some of the results are quite curious.

The voting process currently takes into account voting by the fans, players, and media, with the fan vote being counted as double. There are clearly flaws to this method.

Fan favorites like Tacko Fall can garner close to a million votes while his play on the court clearly doesn't reflect any All-Star bona fides. But there are some checks to a fan-only system. Player and media votes count for a significant portion of the voting. But there are flaws to that portion of the voting as well.

Some players clearly don't take the voting process very seriously.

Just look at some of the Sixers' bench players who received votes from fellow NBA players — to be an All-Star!

Marial Shayok - 1 player vote
Shake Milton - 1 player vote
Trey  Burke - 1 player vote
Matisse Thybulle - 1 player vote
Furkan Korkmaz - 1 player vote
Norvel Pelle - 1 player vote

Raul Neto, sadly, did not get any love from his fellow NBA players, nor did Mike Scott. Then there are the starters who received significant player votes: Tobias Harris (19), Al Horford (16), Josh Richardson (13). Those make some sense.

Joel Embiid was voted a starter by receiving a hefty portion of all three segments of the voting audience. The only other Sixer with a legit chance to make the team as a reserve appears to be Ben Simmons.

Simmons received the third most votes among guards in the East from the media, fourth most from the players, but a curious eighth most by the fans. More fans voted for Jaylen Brown than Simmons. OK, sure.

You can see a list of all players who received votes here. The reserves for the 2020 All-Star squad will be announces on Thursday night on TNT. The reserves are chosen by head coaches.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the coaches around the league aren't going to give Pelle the nod for all of those sweet blocks.



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Sixers' Joel Embiid named All-Star starter for third consecutive season

Sixers' Joel Embiid named All-Star starter for third consecutive season

Joel Embiid is again one of the 10 best players in the NBA, according to fans, a panel of media members and his fellow players.

The Sixers’ center was named an All-Star starter on Thursday for the third consecutive season.

Starters were determined by the votes of fans (50 percent weight), media members (25 percent) and players (25 percent). 

Embiid has averaged 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the 29-17 Sixers. He’s been sidelined for the past eight games with a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. If Embiid is unable to play in the All-Star Game, which will take place on Feb. 16 in Chicago, then Commissioner Adam Silver will select an injury replacement. 

Though his scoring is down from last season, the Sixers have still been a much better team with Embiid on the floor than with him off it.

He’s second in the NBA in defensive win shares per game and fourth in defensive rebounding percentage (minimum 20 games played, 15 minutes per game). Lineups with Embiid have a 99.5 defensive rating, while lineups without him are at 106.9. 

It’s been an eventful year so far for Embiid, who’s been suspended for a fight and subsequent social media barbs, called load management “BS,” publicly grappled with questions about how to balance maturity and dominance, and sustained a nauseating injury.

Though the Cameroonian big man has said he cares most about being healthy and at his best for the playoffs, he now has another personal accolade.

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