Denton: Redick Will Make Game 1 Return
By John Denton
Updated: April 16, 2011
ORLANDO – Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick is the active type and one who doesn’t feel right physically if he’s unable to get in a workout or break a sweat on a daily basis. He’s so committed to that routine that Redick even found a way to mix in a weight-lifting workout or two last summer when he was on his honeymoon in Europe.
So being unable to do much of anything at all for a three-week period and being out of action with the Magic for more than a month because of a lower abdominal strain was downright torturous for Redick. Once he was cleared to resume rehabilitation, Redick attacked the sessions where his arms and legs were strapped to tension bands, but not being able to play basketball worked tricks on his mind.
``It was difficult for me because I’m the type who needs to work out because it feeds my soul,’’ Redick said. ``I couldn’t even condition and there were three weeks when I couldn’t even lift because I didn’t want to aggravate anything down there. I had these bands that I was strapped to an hour a day to try and get my core right, so I felt like I was in bondage. Every day I felt like, `Take these freaking straps off me!’ It was very frustrating to not be able to play, not be able to run and not be able to lift – all the things that I enjoy doing.’’
When the fourth-seeded Magic host the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks Saturday night in Game 1 of the playoffs, Redick will be able to rejoin Orlando’s rotation with little-to-no restrictions. He went through Friday’s two-hour workout with no problems, and after feeling no pain at Saturday morning’s shootaround, it's now confirmed that he will be smack in the middle of head coach Stan Van Gundy’s rotation off the bench.
Orlando’s bench has suffered mightily without Redick, who has proven himself this season to be much more than just a spot-up shooter. In addition to averaging a career-best 10.1 points per game, Redick was often on the floor at the end of games because of his abilities as a playmaker on drive-and-kick plays and his growth as a team defender. Van Gundy said he might have to limit Redick’s minutes early on as his stamina level returns, but he plans to play his shooting guard if fully healthy.
``He looked good to me. We went 12 minutes or so and we didn’t give him a rest and we went five-on-five halfcourt and he never got a break, and I thought he looked good. He shot the ball well and he got up and down the floor well,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The big thing now is what’s he going to feel like (on Saturday) coming in after his first real go at it in five weeks.
``I don’t know how many minutes he can go with his conditioning, but if he can go I’m going to go back to it with him in there,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``To me, that’s a fairly easy decision based on what I saw today and the struggles that we’ve had off our bench. … We’ve just struggled so much off the bench. If we can get him back, I’m certainly not risking disrupting anything with the way we’ve played.’’
Redick suffered the abdominal strain on March 11 during a morning practice in Oakland and was forced to miss the final 17 games of the regular season when pain lingered in his midsection. He suffered a couple of setbacks along the way, forcing him to restart the healing process. He’s worked with Magic Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Rogowski throughout, and the two even travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia to work with famed abdominal specialist, Alex McKechnie.
Redick’s first big test came on Friday when he returned to practice for the first time in five weeks. Redick, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard, went through the pushing and shoving of a post defense drill and he was proud of the way that he put a crushing screen on 6-foot-10 power forward Ryan Anderson. He said that his stamina level was better than expected, and he’s hoping that the adrenaline rush of playing in the playoffs will carry him through Saturday night’s game at the Amway Center.
``I did the whole practice, no limitations, no issues and I made it through,’’ Redick said with a sigh. ``I’m still under evaluation as (Friday) goes on and (Saturday) morning, but hopefully I’ll be available. We did some full-court scrimmaging and my wind was better than I expected. My legs felt good from the time off. It just felt good to play basketball again. Basically any movement I could have done out there I did today – closing out on shooters, post defense and simulating a lot of the stuff I’ll have to do and everything worked.’’
Redick said the start of these playoffs might help him finally forget the pain of losing in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. He said he chuckled at some media’s predictions that the Magic should be ``on upset alert’’ and he understands that the Magic are being overlooked because of their up-and-down play late in the regular season. But Redick is confident that this Magic team can make a deep run in the playoffs.
``(The loss to Boston) hit me hard. That was a loss that I still think about,’’ Redick said. ``When we made it to the (2009) Finals my third year and Dwight and Jameer’s fifth year, nobody expected us to be there and we were the surprise. But last year, we had expectations and everybody on our team believed and thought that we were going to win the championship. When that reality hit, it was hard to swallow.
``We’re definitely not one of the favorites now and that’s just the reality of the situation, and because of how we played to finish the season we shouldn’t be,’’ Redick continued. ``I know the pundits are saying that if anybody should be on upset alert it’s us and I don’t think anybody has us going past the second round. The level of expectations for us right now are pretty low, but that’s OK.’’