76ers

Jimmy Butler lone bright spot of Sixers' Game 1 loss to Nets

Jimmy Butler lone bright spot of Sixers' Game 1 loss to Nets

People were worried about Jimmy Butler.

Why is he deferring so much? Why does he only show up in the fourth quarter? Has he lost a step defensively?

That was regular season Jimmy Butler. Playoff Jimmy Butler is apparently a whole different animal.

Butler was the only real bright spot in the Sixers’ 111-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

He poured in 36 points and at times looked like the best player on the floor. He was aggressive on both ends and looked like a completely different player from the regular season.

“That was the adult in the room,” Brett Brown said. “That was a man and I think that especially like we’ve seen it here in Philly in the regular season, fourth periods stand out a lot, you saw it kind of consistently spread throughout the game. The physicality of the game, the elite athleticism, the toughness. It is true, he was the adult in the room, and he was trying to pull others along.”

Butler shot 50 percent from the field and also added nine rebounds, two steals and two assists. The only other Sixer to go for at least 36 while hitting over 50 percent of his shots with nine boards, two steals and two assists in a playoff game is Julius Erving.

Butler’s outstanding performance was wasted though. The only stat that stands out in a negative way is that Butler didn’t have a single assist, but it’s hard to pin that on the four-time All-Star. Butler went 11 of 22 while the rest of the starting five went 13 of 38 (34 percent). 

Butler has always said that the offensive part of the game came easy to him, but did express regret over not being able to get his teammates going.

“I think I can score the ball pretty easily,” Butler said. “The thing that bothers me the most, to tell you the truth, is the fact that I didn’t have a single assist. I think if I’m getting everybody involved and everybody else is hitting shots, I think the game goes a different way. Going to study the film and see how I can find my teammates better, to tell you the truth.”

After how things transpired in Minnesota, Butler came to the Sixers with a reputation — fair or unfair. To his credit, the sentiments he echoed after Saturday’s loss matched what he’s said since he got here.

But still, his unselfishness on offense was the biggest criticism during the regular season. Another was his on-ball defense. On a play against D’Angelo Russell in the first quarter, it was evident Butler wasn’t messing around in this one.

After the block, Butler chased Russell into the corner and bodied the young guard up, eventually causing Russell to commit a turnover.

The Sixers weren’t terrible defensively. The Nets shot 42 percent overall. The trio of Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, who have all taken turns tormenting the Sixers this season, combined to shoot 24 of 57 (42 percent). That wasn't good enough for Butler.

And while much was made coming into the series of the team's pick-and-roll defense, Butler thought it was more simple that that.

“I just think we gotta guard better," Butler said. "That’s what it comes down to. Whoever it may be, myself included. … We gotta get stops.”

While it's just one game, there is a little concern that the issues the Sixers had against Brooklyn in the regular season crept up at times in Game 1.

Before a reporter could even ask if the Sixers were panicking after a Game 1 loss, Butler was already shaking his head.

“No. … I’m telling you, we’re going to be fine.”

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Why it makes sense that Kyle Korver signed with Bucks over Sixers

Why it makes sense that Kyle Korver signed with Bucks over Sixers

Sixers fans hoping for a Kyle Korver reunion got disappointing news Saturday afternoon.

The veteran sharpshooter is reportedly signing a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Korver’s decision was down to the Bucks and the Sixers. Ultimately, Korver chose the Bucks because of his relationship with head coach Mike Budenholzer. It makes sense. Korver enjoyed the best stretch of his career in four-plus seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, including his only All-Star appearance. The 2014-15 Hawks, which featured Sixers general manager Elton Brand and forward Mike Scott, won 60 games and got to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While the Sixers could’ve used Korver’s shooting to help space the floor, he’s 38 years old  — he’ll turn 39 in March — and would’ve occupied the team’s 14th roster spot. It’s a slight disappointment, but not a huge concern. With all things even between the Sixers and Bucks as far as both teams’ ability to contend, Korver chose to play for his former coach.

The veteran free agent pool is getting thinner, but there are a couple guys that might be able to help. Iman Shumpert is a veteran wing with championship experience. Shaun Livingston has even more of that experience from his time with the Warriors. Thabo Sefolosha is a 3-and-D type that is used to fitting into roles on winning teams.

The Sixers on Friday signed 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje to an Exhibit 10 deal, which we explained here. Koumadje is more likely getting a look for the Delaware Blue Coats than anything. The team has the minimum 13 players signed to guaranteed NBA deals. The maximum is 15.

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Sixers sign center Christ Koumadje to partially guaranteed contract

Sixers sign center Christ Koumadje to partially guaranteed contract

Updated: 6:40 p.m.

Elton Brand isn’t messing around when it comes to depth at center.

The Sixers are signing big man Christ Koumadje to an Exhibit 10 contract.

Koumadje, who stands 7-foot-4, is an undrafted rookie out of Florida State. He played with the Sixers’ summer league team in Las Vegas, averaging six points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 13.7 minutes a game. He also had issues with fouls, committing 4.8 a contest — players get 10 fouls in summer league play.

If Koumadje, 23, gets into an NBA game, he will be the first player from the country of Chad in north-central Africa to do so. He’d also be the tallest player in the league — if the Celtics don’t sign the 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall to an NBA deal. There is a possibility that Koumadje is simply an extra camp body and the team is giving him a hard look for its G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. 

The contract has an Exhibit 10 attachment. In that instance, the team has the right to convert the contract to a two-way deal. The Sixers already have their two-way spots filled with Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle, but things can certainly change. If a two-way deal is not offered off the Exhibit 10, the player can be waived and then sign with the team’s G-League affiliate for up to $50,000, more than a general G-League contract.

Brand already made it a point to increase the depth behind Joel Embiid, signing veterans Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn.

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