76ers

Sixers keep being reminded just how important JJ Redick is to team

Sixers keep being reminded just how important JJ Redick is to team

It’s OK to admit your dreams.

When the Sixers said at the beginning of the summer that they were going star hunting, fans across the area let their imaginations run wild.

Thoughts of future Sixers such as LeBron James breezing down the court for one of his patented power slams, Paul George shaking a defender from the triple-threat position for a pull-up jumper or Kawhi Leonard swiping a steal for an easy flush were at an all-time high.

None of those scenarios played out, but that ultimately allowed the team to avoid a nightmare: losing JJ Redick in free agency.

Redick has stated several times he was close to joining the Indiana Pacers during the offseason before the Sixers made the move to re-sign him. That thought should have put fear into the organization because the veteran sharpshooter really makes the Sixers tick.

If last season’s career-best scoring effort and lofty three-point shooting weren’t enough evidence (17.1 points per game/42.0 percent), look no further than Friday’s performance in the Sixers’ 120-114 win over the Mavericks in matchup No. 1 of the NBA China Games. Redick was literally a perfect 10 as he scorched the Mavs for a game-high 28 points on a 10 for 10 shooting (7 for 7 on three-pointers).

But it wasn’t just Redick’s own production that made the difference. His movement without the ball stretched the Mavs’ defense and in turn opened up plenty of space for teammates like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to operate as the Sixers stormed back from a double-digit deficit to claim the victory.

“That is an elite JJ Redick performance even by his standard,” head coach Brett Brown said to reporters in Shanghai.

What’s also been at an elite level since he walked through the door is Redick’s leadership. The 34-year-old has somehow found a way to serve as a mentor to virtually every Sixers youngster since Day 1.

So far this preseason, he’s taken a major role in helping develop rookie Landry Shamet. All the while, Redick has been relegated to a seat on the bench himself so a rejuvenated Markelle Fultz can run with the starters.

Pretty selfless for a guy that has started his last 335 of 336 regular-season games played over the past five seasons.

“He’s been amazing,” Embiid said. “He’s a scorer. He’s the best shooter I’ve ever played with. 

“At the beginning, that’s an adjustment. That felt weird to me because we had the best starting five last year, but he’s bought in. He’s doing a great job.”

“Him coming off the bench where he’s lightning in a bottle gives us a spark,” Brown said. “There’s another additional benefit of what we experienced tonight. He shot it well and we really needed that firepower coming off the bench.”

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Glenn Robinson III on his role with the Sixers: ‘I don’t really understand it’

Glenn Robinson III on his role with the Sixers: ‘I don’t really understand it’

Glenn Robinson III was having by far the best season of his NBA career, starting for the Warriors, averaging 12.9 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

Then he was traded to the Sixers.

Since being acquired by the Sixers along with Alec Burks, Robinson has started two games, come off the bench in four and missed all nine of his three-point attempts.

In an interview with Basketball Insiders’ Spencer Davies, he did not sound pleased with his situation.

Even when (Golden State) played Philly, I showed them what I could do,” Robinson told Davies. “So to play those consistent minutes a night and perform well … that’s the most disappointing part about coming here is that — both of us (are) coming off career years where we’re looking at hopefully big numbers after the season. I know I’ve got a family to feed. So you think about all those things.

“All those things play a role, and then when you come here and your role’s not really explained or you don’t know what’s going on with the trade — it’s not like it was a trade where you come in and immediately have an impact. It’s a little different, so … this team is full of wings, full of guys who can play. So really, I don’t really understand it. But it’s a business, you’ve got to make it happen and go out and try to do your best every night.

Though the Sixers have actually gone 4-2 with Robinson, the team has been in a state of constant change since acquiring him and Burks. Since Robinson has joined, the Sixers have used five different starting lineups. They’ll have to use a sixth Thursday night vs. the Knicks with Joel Embiid out because of a left shoulder sprain. Ben Simmons will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks with nerve impingement in his lower back. 

Robinson had a promising first game after the trade, scoring 10 points on 5 for 6 shooting against the Bulls and moving sharply off the ball, but it’s certainly true that Brett Brown has yet to find a clear role for him.

Last Friday, Robinson talked about the adjustment of moving in the middle of the season. 

“It’s always different,” he said. “You come into a new team and there’s new plays, new personnel. I think that they’ve came it pretty simple when both AB and I have been on the court. Like I said, it’s always different and you kind of learn on the fly and adjust. But teammates have been great, kind of telling us where to be and what to do during the games.”

The 26-year-old is in his second stint with Brown and the Sixers after playing 10 games in Philadelphia his rookie season. 

He still expressed some optimism to Davies that the team can turn the season around. 

“A lot of talent. I think we can go as far as we stick together and want to go,” Robinson told Davies. “We’ve just got a lot of great players and they know how to play the game. That’s the biggest thing, so as long as we can stick together, come together … it’s about defense for this group. We’ve got all the talent in the world to score. I think that we’ve got high chances.”

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This stat shows just how brutal the Sixers have been on the road

This stat shows just how brutal the Sixers have been on the road

It doesn’t take heavy analysis to see that the Sixers are in serious trouble. They’re fifth in the Eastern Conference and both their All-Stars are dealing with injuries

The biggest conundrum with this team is its home and road splits. The Sixers have the best home record in the NBA at 27-2 but fell to 9-21 on the road after a brutal loss to the Cavs Wednesday. 

It was their seventh straight loss on the road and ensured that they will go through the month of February winless away from Wells Fargo Center.

Seems unprecedented, right? Like nobody has ever been this dominant at home and so putrid on the road? Well, that’s because the Sixers are making weird, not-so-great history.

As of now, the Sixers are on pace to be the only team in NBA history to win at least 90 percent of their home games and lose two-thirds of their road games, per Basketball Reference

At 9-21, the Sixers have the same road record as their opponent Thursday, the New York Knicks. Yes, the New York Knicks. The 20-38 Charlotte Hornets have a better road record (11-20).

Brett Brown and it seems like every single player on the team has been asked about the road issues. Nobody has been able to give a concrete answer. Then again, if they had one, this might be figured out.

As it stands, the Sixers are underperforming, and their road woes are the biggest culprit. It won’t get much easier with a four-game West Coast slate that starts Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers and with Ben Simmons and possibly Joel Embiid still on the shelf.

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