BOSTON — Last summer, the 76ers shelled out $23 million to add JJ Redick to the roster. He was exactly the sharp-shooting veteran with playoff experience that the Sixers wanted to help guide the youthful stars on the team.
A few months later, the Sixers picked up veterans Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Belinelli would serve as the Redick of the second unit and Ilyasova, a familiar sight in a Sixers jersey, could stretch the floor and would provide bench depth that was lacking.
They were supposed to be the dependable and consistent forces in times like this. They were supposed to be the ones who could keep their cool in pressure situations. But on Wednesday night in Boston, in a win-or-go-home game, Redick, Belinelli, and Ilyasova were ineffective more often than not.
Redick hit a deep three with 3.8 seconds left to play, bringing the Sixers within one point of the Celtics, giving them a glimmer of hope at the end. But he missed two wide-open shots earlier in the fourth quarter that could have given the Sixers some breathing room.
One shot in particular, when the Sixers were leading by 109-107 with just over a minute to play, Redick found himself completely in the open, and it didn’t go down.
“That’s the one that’ll haunt you,” he said after the game.
It’s a shot that will likely haunt Brett Brown, too.
“You’re up 109-107 and JJ has a clean look…” the Sixers coach said, trailing off as he went through a shooting motion himself.
Redick, Belinelli, and Ilyasova combined for just 26 points in the 114-112 loss to the Celtics. Redick was charged with two of the Sixers’ 17 turnovers, but there were at least three more that he was involved in. The three players also accounted for 12 of the team’s 31 fouls.
“Our goal on Redick is, you’re not going to play perfect but you’ve just got to be there as much as humanly possible and hope there’s a cumulative affect,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Stevens added that the Sixers kept fighting despite the missed open looks and he used the Sixers’ young stars as examples of guys who made big plays in big moments.
In comparison to the 26 points that the three veterans scored, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric finished with 27 points each in the loss.
Redick closed out the night with 14 points, going 2 of 7 from three-point land.
He even seemed to lose his cool in the opening quarter when the action meant for him went to T.J. McConnell instead.
Redick still fuming that McConnell opened up to the strong side corner, taking away Redick’s flare cut. TJ fricking scored on the play. This anger isn’t very useful in a close out game pic.twitter.com/TE7oFp1qLf
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) May 10, 2018
The Sixers’ young stars did everything they could, using every ounce of their limited experience in an attempt to keep them in a game that just slipped away.
For the majority of the series, Belinelli was exploited because of his defensive limitations, and he took just two shots in Game 5.
Ilyasova finished with nine points on 3-of-8 shooting, 1 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Redick’s Hail Mary shot in the final seconds couldn’t erase the fact that for most of the game the youngsters were left to their own devices.