Sixers veterans leading the way in home stretch of the season

JJ Redick had a message for his team on Tuesday night: Detroit is waiting.

Playing at the Wells Fargo Center on the first night of a back-to-back, the Sixers wanted to take care of business early on against Brooklyn so that the starters wouldn’t have to play extended minutes before hopping on a flight and heading to Detroit for a Wednesday night game.

Redick’s message was heard loud and clear as he led the Sixers to a 121-95 victory over the Nets, finishing the night with a game-high 19 points, and resting the entirety of the fourth quarter.

Close behind was Marco Belinelli with 17 points. The Sixers other veteran, Ersan Ilyasova, playing in place of injured Dario Saric, finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

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In addition to being a source of wisdom in the locker room, the Sixers’ veteran players have ramped up their play in the home stretch of the season.

“These guys have internal clocks, there is no doubt about that,” Brett Brown said. “I can see the serious side coming out of some of our [veteran] guys, the excited side coming out of our guys, and the combination of them both is a powerful formula.”

Redick, who said that as he’s gotten older he’s noticed he plays well during March and April, agreed with his coach.

“That’s true. If you’ve been there and you recognize the rhythms of the season you can mentally cue into things,” he said. “I definitely think there’s truth to that.”

Since March 1, Redick is shooting 50 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from beyond the arc with four 20-plus-point performances.

In 23 games with the Sixers, Belinelli has scored in double figures 18 times, including the last nine games in a row. In those nine games, he is shooting 60 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from three.

Ilyasova has shot 43.3 percent from the floor through the Sixers’ 11-game winning streak.

Belinelli has a reputation for being a clutch shooter and making tough shots, and as he has settled into his role with the Sixers, he has been proving his mettle with high-difficulty shots. Off balance, over outstretched arms, and falling backward, there doesn’t seem to be a shot he won’t take or can’t make.

“I thought I hit tough shots,” Redick said with a laugh Tuesday night. “But this guy hits some ridiculous shots.”

Redick, Belinelli, and Ilyasova each have said that a reason they wanted to play with the Sixers was because it was a group of young, energetic, and talented players who want to win and that creates an environment that is exciting to play in.

Now, the veterans are showing the young guns what it is going to take to win in the playoffs — on and off the court.