From starter to bench, JJ Redick understands Sixers' decision

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From starter to bench, JJ Redick understands Sixers' decision

CAMDEN, N.J. — JJ Redick said exactly what you’d want any good teammate to say about moving from the starting lineup to the bench. 

“I just look at it as whatever’s best for the team, I’m on board with it, I’m a fan of,” Redick said Sunday. “(Head coach) Brett (Brown) asked me 10 minutes before the first practice if we could explore this. I told him, ‘whatever the team needs.’”

But for Redick, it’s so much deeper than simply supporting his coach in blind faith. He understands why Brown is testing out a lineup with Markelle Fultz in his place, and he’s actually had a hand in tweaking the Sixers’ substitution patterns.

Brown noted last Monday that last season, “Our most efficient five wasn’t the starting five. … It was our lineup with Dario (Saric) and (Marco) Belinelli and those guys.”

Brown was referring to the five-man group of Belinelli, Robert Covington, Amir Johnson, Saric and Simmons, who had an NBA-best 32.9 net rating in 104 minutes together. While the Sixers’ starting lineup last year was also excellent with a much larger sample size (21.4 net rating in 600 minutes together), the idea is having Redick replace Belinelli on that other highly efficient unit makes the most sense for the team. As for the starting lineup, the Sixers are optimistic about the idea of playing a rejuvenated Fultz alongside Simmons (see story).

Belinelli and Redick did run many of the same actions last season, running around (and setting) tons of screens, giving the Sixers long-range shooting and plenty of off-ball movement. They’re both “high gravity” players, guys that attract the defense’s attention and open up space for their teammates.

“I don’t know that it’s me for Marco. I don’t look at it that way,” Redick said. “But there’s a three-minute stretch in the first and second quarter where they had some great success with a specific lineup, and I would sort of be taking those minutes from that group last year.

“It’s all about the algorithm and the spreadsheets,” Redick said with a wry laugh. “Just *pop* plug one guy in.”

For what it’s worth, the five-man unit of Redick, Covington, Johnson, Saric and Simmons (Redick in Belinelli’s place) was very effective last season, albeit not to the same degree as that same group with Belinelli in Redick’s spot. They had a 10.2 net rating in 108 minutes together.

For Redick, one benefit of the bench role it appears he might fill could be longer stints on the floor. Brown remembers having success with the Spurs using Manu Ginobili in the last seven minutes of every quarter. That’s exactly how he used Redick in the Sixers’ preseason opener (with the exception of the fourth period, when the Sixers didn’t play their regular rotation).

“In terms of the substitution patterns, as far as I know, it’s going to be longer stretches this year for me,” Redick said. “That’s sort of what I was used to prior to last year. Brett and I and the analytics guys had so many conversations about it, we worked it out toward the end. A lot of the guys had input and feedback with regard to that.”

For Redick, ego has zero part in how he thinks about his role. It’s all about the right basketball decision, and he understands the numbers that suggest it may be worth trying this new rotation. And he certainly doesn’t mind that it’s Fultz taking his place.

Fultz described Redick as “like a big brother to me.”

“I’m one of Markelle’s biggest fans,” Redick said. “Maybe not like his mother, some other people in his life. But I’m one of his biggest fans. I want to see him succeed. I want this lineup to succeed. 

“To me, the way I look at it is the ultimate goal is to be able to play for a championship. And our (starting) lineup last year was one of the best in the league, if not the best in the league by a few measurements. If (this) lineup is as good or better, then we’re going to be in a position to play for a championship. I think it can be a great thing.”

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Oddsmakers set the betting odds on Sixers-Raptors series

Oddsmakers set the betting odds on Sixers-Raptors series

If the oddsmakers are right, we could be in for an exciting and long series between the Toronto Raptors and the Sixers. 

With both teams disposing of their first-round opponents in convincing fashion in the fifth game, the odds are set for a clash of Eastern Conference titans that could go the distance.

According to DraftKings, the Raptors are -200 favorites to win the series, meaning a $200 bet would return a total of $300. They have the Sixers listed at +150, meaning a $100 bet would return $250.

There are also odds available on DraftKings on the correct series score. The Raptors winning in seven games is the most likely outcome at +300. The second most likely outcome of the series is a Raptors win in five games, at +400, followed by a Sixers win in six, at +450.

The Sixers are now 20/1 to win the title, so a $100 bet would return a total of $2,100 for you to celebrate with as the Sixers parade down Broad Street.

Now, there are a few things to consider. First of all, there’s homecourt advantage. The Raptors have it and they were 32-9 at home this season. Typically, you’d then look at the head-to-head matchup for clues, but in this case, it feels irrelevant. 

The Raptors won the season series 3-1, but a deeper look would remind you that the Sixers' victory came against a Raptors team without their best player, Kawhi Leonard, and the three Raptors wins came against the Sixers before their trade for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.

Finally, it’s important to note that the Sixers have never, ever beaten Leonard, dating back 13 meetings over the last eight years.

So, if you like the Raptors, it seems logical to make the bet on DraftKings now before Game One, where they’re favored by five points, and if you like the Sixers, it would make sense to wait and make your wager on FanDuel. While the series odds are not out yet on FanDuel, the Sixers are 26/1 to win the title on there as opposed to 20/1 on DraftKings. You might be able to get slightly better odds on the Sixers on there once the series odds are posted.

Either way, we expect a physical, fiery series between two teams who made upgrades for this kind of opportunity to advance in the playoffs.

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Sixers-Raptors second-round NBA playoff series starts with Game 1 Saturday

Sixers-Raptors second-round NBA playoff series starts with Game 1 Saturday

We already knew the opponent and now we know when the series will begin.

After dispatching of the Brooklyn Nets in five games, the Sixers will take on the Raptors for Game 1 in Toronto on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. or 8 on TNT. 

The Sixers will play at 7:30 p.m. if the Spurs-Nuggets series goes to a Game 7 (Spurs-Nuggets would be at 10). If there's no Game 7 in that Spurs-Nuggets series, the Sixers will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Down 3-2, the Spurs host the Nuggets in Game 6 on Thursday night at 8 p.m., so we'll know after that game what time the Sixers' game on Saturday will begin. 

Here are the schedule details released by the league:

• Game 1, at Raptors — Saturday, April 27, TBD, TNT
• Game 2, at Raptors — Monday, April 29, TBD, TNT
• Game 3, vs. Raptors — Thursday, May 2, 8 p.m., ESPN
• Game 4, vs. Raptors — Sunday, May 5, 3:30 p.m., ABC
• *Game 5, at Raptors — Tuesday, May 7, TBD, TNT
• *Game 6, vs. Raptors — Thursday, May 9, TBD, ESPN
• *Game 7, at Raptors — Sunday, May 12, TBD, TNT

*if necessary

Scotiabank Arena has been a house of horrors for the Sixers. They’ve lost 13 straight there. Their last win came on Nov. 10, 2012, with Lavoy Allen in the starting lineup. Kawhi Leonard has also never lost to the Sixers in his NBA career, going a perfect 13-0. It's fair to note that a lot of that damage was done during The Process and that Toronto has yet to see "Sixers 3.0" this season.

Games 1 and 2 will be at the Scotiabank Arena, before coming to the Wells Fargo Center for Games 3 and 4. Games 5 and 7 would be at Scotiabank Arena and Game 6 would be at the Wells Fargo Center, if necessary. 

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