PHILADELPHIA, PA – JJ Redick sent a ball through the basket, and the roof off a building.
And as he trotted back towards the 76ers’ sideline Friday after making the most miraculous of his 8 record-setting 3-pointers, the veteran sharpshooter raised his hands to the air and shrugged his shoulders, as if to seemingly ask, “How?”
That was what everyone else in The Center’s sold out crowd of 20,688 had to be wondering, too.
Somehow, someway, off a curl from left to right across the top of the arc, Redick, with less than 4 seconds to shoot, managed to pump fake, race to the sideline, and not just get off a huge 26-foot fadeaway shot, but make it.
He did this.
The incredible heave with 68 seconds to play in a competitive tussle with the Indiana Pacers was the highlight of Redick’s remarkable outside shooting display (11-19 fg, 8-12 3fg). The bucket made it a 116-110 game, and he still wasn’t done yet.
Capping off a string of three consecutive treys that shattered a late tie, the 32-year old nailed one more long ball before his season-high 31-point showing came to an end.
Redick’s 8 3-pointers set a floor record at The Center, and were pivotal to helping the Sixers push past Indiana, 121-110.
“Believe it or not,” Redick said of 3-pointer at 116-110, “it is something I occasionally practice. I actually had a similar shot against Houston, on Ryan Anderson. I thought it was going to go in, but it was a little short. I had to change my release point tonight, just because of how [Indiana’s] Myles Turner is. It’s a shot I’ve taken before. It’s all end of game, and it’s a shot I feel like I can get off.”
Here’s a sampling of the reaction that Redick’s 3-point barrage generated:
“When you sort of bring somebody in and you say, ‘What is their NBA identifiable skill?,’ it’s not hard to reach for what his is. Tonight, we all saw JJ at his best when it mattered the most.”
“He’s amazing. He’s a great player, great leader, and a great shooter, obviously. He came up big for us. When he’s open I try to find him, it’s like he hits every shot.”
“He was amazing. I don’t have any words for that, but he’s a shooter that’s why we got him. I’m happy that we have him.”
“He’s been known his whole career as a shooter. It just opens up the floor because so many guys are focused on him throughout the game.”
Indiana head coach Nate McMillan
“That’s what he does, he’s very capable of making those shots. JJ is one of the best shooters in the league.”
Redick’s performance down the stretch sent The Center into a full-throated frenzy.
“I had goosebumps tonight, I really did,” he said. “It was as loud as you’d ever seen for an NBA arena, regular season for sure. [The fans] were awesome the whole second half. We play with energy, and we fed off that energy. To me, the most beautiful basketball you can play is having a symbiotic relationship with the fans. It becomes beautiful. To get them that win was huge.”
With Friday’s victory, the Sixers have strung together four straight wins since the 2013-2014 season, Brett Brown’s first in Philadelphia. At 5-4, the team is also off to its best start since that same campaign.
“I didn’t even realize that,” Brown said afterwards, when asked about the significance of the Sixers clearing the .500 mark. “I completely mean this – my vision line is so much broader. I do understand, and we’re proud of that, but I’m very focused on other things. We’re still growing.”
On an individual level, Ben Simmons has certainly been growing and producing in captivating fashion. Against the Pacers, he did some more stat-sheet stuffing, posting 8 of his 14 points (5-13 fg) in the fourth quarter, while tallying totals of 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Friday, Simmons became just the second player in NBA history – Oscar Robertson being the other – to register two triple-doubles in his first nine games.
“It’s just amazing to me,” the Australian rookie point man said of his achievement. “There’s nothing else I can really say about it. It’s an honor to be there.”
Joining Redick and Simmons as top contributors Friday were Joel Embiid, who had 18 points (7-15 fg), 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Robert Covington.
Along with Redick, Covington had the deep stroke going. He netted 22 points on 5 of 9 shooting from beyond the arc. His timeliest three was arguably the one that vaulted the Sixers in front, 110-108, with two and a half minutes to go.
“That game was a true testament to how resilient this team is,” said Covington.
The Sixers trailed by 7 points at halftime, 63-56, and a game-high 9 points early in the third quarter. They then responded with a go-ahead 28-10 spurt, only to fall behind again by 3 with 4 minutes left in the fourth.
Covington, the longest-tenured player on Brown’s roster, was a spark at the outset of Friday’s tilt as well, scoring 7 points as the Sixers built a 20-13 advantage midway through the first quarter.
“We’re still learning how to figure out these games,” Covington said. “We’ve been in position to really put games away, be able to find the right guys, it’s amazing.”
By the time, Redick, Covington, and the rest of the Sixers left the court Friday, they had delivered a perimeter assault of historic proportions. The team buried 18 3-pointers, a new franchise record, and did so on a mere 36 attempts.
The potent and efficient display was, in many ways, a wildly successful, exciting, and encouraging fulfilment of a long-held personnell vision. With threats like Embiid and Simmons in place, space opens up, particularly for a marksman of Redick’s ilk.
“His skillset completely complements Joel Embiid’s, and Ben finding him,” said Brown. “He really, in the environment that we were playing out of, he really maximized the look.”
Before calling it a night, though, it was Redick who gave a tip of the cap to his head coach. The Duke product knows Embiid and Simmons have helped create open looks, but he also thinks Brown’s scheme has something to do with it.
“I think Joel and Ben draw attention,” said Redick, “but I don’t think it’s [only] that. I think it’s just the way we move the ball and move bodies. That was the appeal of coming here in the first place. Brett’s system has been really good for me. Playing off Ben and Joel is the second part of that.”
Redick, who’s now 20 for 46 from 3-point land this season, has been really good for the Sixers. The firepower he unleashed Friday was proof.
In addition to picking up a great win Friday, the Sixers championed a worthy cause, holding their annual Military Appreciation Night.
After wrapping up a modest two-game homestand, the Sixers will set out on the road for a season-long 5-game, 10-day Western Conference road trip. The club will first face the Utah Jazz Tuesday, then visit the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and LA Clippers before the trek is done.