PHILADELPHIA – While Sixers guard JJ Redick attempts to spin his team’s postseason playoff inexperience into a good thing, Miami’s Dwyane Wade isn’t all in on that theory.
Reddick, of course, is trying to downplay that storyline because the Sixers’ two best players – center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons – along with starting power forward Dario Saric, have not played in a postseason game.
The Heat and Sixers open their best-of-7 opening-round series tonight (8 p.m.) in Philadelphia.
“I actually think, in a way, not having been in it is an advantage,” Reddick told Philadelphia reporters on Friday. “You really just don’t know any better.”
Wade, meanwhile, is in the postseason for the 13th time. He has played in 172 playoff games including 29 Finals games. The rest of the Heat roster, except for Udonis Haslem and Dion Waiters, totals 81 postseason games, led by Goran Dragic’s 30.
When asked about what that truly means, Wade started by saying that experience “doesn’t guarantee you anything” before adding:
“I think it helps you in certain moments. You’ve seen the movie before so you can sit down and tell a person who hasn’t watched this movie what’s coming. Some players and some teams are special and it doesn’t matter how much experience they have. If they’re a good enough team, they’re a good enough team no matter where they’re playing.”
But is Philadelphia that type of team, yet? Was overcoming playoff inexperience part of The Process handbook? At times their younger players may have to rely on veterans like Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.
Redick has played in 88 postseason games; Johnson, who is starting at center until Embiid returns, has played in 42; Belinelli, 48; and Ilyasova, 23.
Sixers coach Brett Brown had a different take than Reddick’s when it comes to postseason experience.
“I suppose there is an element of naivete,” he told reporters Friday. “You don’t know what you don’t know. Let’s just go play loose and free and that could be true.
“But in general, the experience of this environment this time of year is a priceless thing that you just can’t make up or buy.”
And there is another part of this whole experience thing that cannot be overlooked: While Brown will be in his first playoff game as a head coach, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra is preparing for his 114th. He ranks 16th all-time in games, 14th with 70 wins and ninth with a .619 postseason winning percentage.