Corey Brewer was on the seventh day of his 10-day contract Monday night when he was inserted into the starting lineup for injured Jimmy Butler. Not only was that a big upgrade from garbage minutes on a short contract, but he was also tasked with defending reigning MVP James Harden.
Philadelphia fans love a guy who puts it all on the line, and with a little more than three minutes left in the second quarter, Brewer did just that. Harden fell in the backcourt while Brewer was guarding him, and instead of continuing down the court, Brewer continued to guard Harden even as the Rockets star was sitting on the floor. Once Harden was up, he shoved Brewer, who did a great job of selling it to the officials.
Brewer face-guarding Harden while the Rockets guard is on the floor is a top-five Sixers moment this season, and the fans were outraged by the shove and in love with the defensive display. Later, they chanted Brewer’s name.
Here’s what we learned from this play: At no point is Harden rendered useless — he is a threat even when sitting on the court, and Brewer was acutely aware of this. He was not going to let Harden get up and get an easy pass that could lead to an easy bucket. Brewer had already made some nice plays leading up to this one, but this is the moment that made Sixers fans Brewer believers.
When asked if he has guarded players when they are sitting on the court before, Brewer said with a laugh, “All the time.” Here’s what some of the other players and coach Brett Brown thought of the play and Brewer’s performance:
Before that play, Brewer showed off what else he brings to the table. On the first defensive possession of the game, Brewer’s work to get the rebound kept P.J. Tucker from the ball and allowed Ben Simmons to pull it down and break out in transition. The play ended with the first score of the game, an easy two for Brewer -- a place he excels.
If you want a guy who can get out on the break and run quickly to create a two-on-one situation, then Brewer is your man.
Not long after Brewer opened the game with a transition bucket, he showed why Brown chose him guard Harden.
Again, Harden is always a threat and no one is able to completely shut him down, but limiting his passes to open teammates and making him work for his shots are the best ways to try. Here, Brewer fights over a screen to stay with Harden and keeps a hand in his face as Harden tries to pass out of the paint, forcing a turnover.
“If he is not getting his teammates involved," Brewer said of Harden after the game, "then we have a chance to win, and that’s what happened tonight. He only had three assists, and that’s a job well done.”
And Brewer continued to frustrate Harden throughout the game, even getting Harden called for an offensive foul here:
Another thing Brewer brings to the table is the ability to create for himself. He’s not going to be a volume scorer, but this baseline drive is the kind of thing that’s in his bag.
As Brewer nears the end of his 10-day contract, the main reasons the Sixers should keep him are his defense and his willingness to make hustle plays and sacrifice his body, despite his 12 years in the league.
Off a Jonah Bolden miss Monday, Brewer flew into traffic to keep the ball alive, tapping the ball back out for a second-chance opportunity.