After missing 25 games due to a bulging disc in the back, J.J. Redick finally returned to the court.
In what Doc Rivers described pre-game as “limited minutes”, Redick went on to play 23 minutes, contributing 12 points, 2 rebounds and one assist off the bench. In that time, Redick posted a +/- of -10.
Shooting 3-of-10 from the field, Redick’s shot selection was similar to the ones he took prior to going down with an injury. Rivers had Redick is his normal role, coming off of screens and getting shots in transition, but they just didn’t fall. That can be pitted to rust as Redick has missed almost two months of basketball. With less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Redick missed a go-ahead three-pointer to give the Clippers the lead. Eventually the Dallas Mavericks topped the Clippers 113-107 behind 26 points from Dirk Nowitzki.
After the game, Redick admitted that rust was a factor on the court.
“I didn’t feel limited. I felt limited by my rustiness, but physically, I didn’t feel any limitations.”
This was expected due to the time spent off the floor. With five games left in the season, Redick will spend the remainder of the games getting his rhythm back. His presence is important to the team going forward for both offensive and defensive purposes. On offense he opens up the floor for everyone around him and on defense he adds size, at least size compared to Darren Collison who will likely remain the starting shooting guard until the season ends.
And based on the standings, Redick’s presence will be important as the team will likely draw division rivals in Golden State for the first round of the NBA playoffs. While Collison has done a solid job defending two guards in Redick’s and Jamal Crawford‘s absence, he gives up at least seven inches to Klay Thompson. Sure, Redick is only 6-foot-4, but against a player like Thompson who Mark Jackson doesn’t mind posting up to expose matchups, those few inches matter.
Looking at the talent Oklahoma City and San Antonio possess, Redick’s presence, a healthy presence at that, will be needed if they want to atop the last two representatives from the Western Conference. Team leader Chris Paul knows this.
“He’s still trying to find his rhythm. You know we haven’t had too many practices. He just played. He really hasn’t had many chances to practice and things like that; and I think he did great and we’re going to need him.”