JJ Redick watched Joel Embiid’s 38-point, 13-rebound performance Thursday night in the Sixers’ win over the Celtics at TD Garden. He just didn’t have the sound on, and claims he only had a vague awareness of the criticism Embiid had received from Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal the night before.
“Saw a headline on ESPN and heard a little bit of dialogue last night,” Redick said Friday at Wells Fargo Center after a shootaround with his new team, the New Orleans Pelicans. “I had the game on mute because [Chris] Webber was doing it. I didn’t hear a lot of that.”
However, Redick said he wasn’t surprised by Embiid’s response. The 35-year-old sharpshooter departed the Sixers this summer in free agency after two seasons with the team to sign a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Pelicans. Before leaving for New Orleans, he said he spoke with Embiid following the pain of the Sixers’ last-second Game 7 loss to the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs.
I think Joel has matured a lot. As a young player, you have to go through some struggles. You saw the emotion last year with the loss to Toronto. Him and I spoke at length this summer prior to me going to the Pelicans. But in sort of late May, early June, we had a discussion. And I know that it hurts, I know that it matters to him, I know that he cares. I know that he wants to be great.
The Sixers’ offense has changed significantly with the subtractions of Redick and Jimmy Butler, and the additions of Josh Richardson and Al Horford. They’ve gone from having the most handoff possessions in the NBA last year to the seventh-most this year. “Bully ball” is now the team’s core identity — after having the second-most post-ups in the league in 2018-19, the Sixers already have 128 more than the Lakers, who are No. 2 in post-up possessions.
Redick was his usual self as he prepared to face his old team and answered questions about them — insightful and, on occasion, slightly snarky.
“Yeah, I think your offensive strategy should be based on your personnel and maximizing the talents of your best players. So, if you have Joel Embiid on your team, you should post the ball — for sure,” he said with a bit of a smirk.
He acknowledged that tonight’s game “means a little more to him,” and said he’s been following the Sixers’ 19-7 start.
“I’m enjoying seeing what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s weird to say this, but I’m enjoying their success — I really am. I will always pull for any Brett Brown-coached team and obviously love Joel and Ben and Tobias and all those other guys that I was with for the last few years.”
One thing that Redick has especially enjoyed is watching Ben Simmons make the first two regular-season threes of his NBA career. Redick is 18th in NBA history with 1,782 made threes and pushed for Simmons to expand his game.
“I think he’s become better defensively — he’s a problem on that end of the floor,” Redick said. “When he’s really engaged, he’s as good as there is defensively. He’s shooting the ball a little more comfortably now. I’ve been advocating for him to shoot the ball for a couple years, but it’s good to see him take those shots in a game and knock them down.”
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