Two seasons ago, Jimmy Butler nearly led the eighth-seeded Bulls to a stunning upset of the top-seeded Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, averaging 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. The Celtics rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win the series after the Bulls’ Rajon Rondo suffered a hand injury.
The 76ers are a poor 3-point-shooting team, and Butler has never been known as a 3-point gunner. And on the surface, the departures of floor-spacers such as Saric and Covington would seem to make this area even more of a weakness.
But Covington and Saric, respectively, are just 35.9 and 35.1 percent 3-point shooters in their careers. In nine total games against the Celtics last season, Covington made just 13 of 49 threes.
Butler, meanwhile, has converted 34.1 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in his career, in line with the players for whom he was traded. But in 19 career games against the Celtics, he has made just 26.8 percent of his 3-pointers.
Lineups including Butler, Simmons, Embiid, and Markelle Fultz could struggle mightily from long range, though, not to mention the fact that all four are ball-dominant players. The Celtics already have the league’s top-ranked 3-point defense, allowing opponents to make just 30.5 percent of their tries from beyond the arc.
This trade will open a roster spot for the 76ers, who are also acquiring Justin Patton in the deal. And Philly will likely look to add some shooting, either soon or during the buyout season in March.
Last season, the 76ers acquired Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli after their contracts were bought out by their previous teams.