J.J. Redick to return in series opener

Updated: April 16, 2011, 5:47 PM ET
By Michael Wallace | ESPN.com

ORLANDO -- After missing the past 17 games with injuries, Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick was cleared to return to the lineup for Saturday night's playoff opener against the Atlanta Hawks.

Redick, who has been recovering from a lower abdominal strain, participated in Friday's practice and went through Saturday morning's team workout at the Amway Center. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Redick would resume his normal role as the first shooting guard off the bench behind starter Jason Richardson.

J.J. Redick
Redick

"It'll be a little weird, to be honest," said Redick, who has been out since March 11. "I feel like I haven't played a game in forever. I did the shootaround this morning and I did my workout afterward. I feel like I'm ready to go. Obviously, playing in the playoffs is a different beast."

Redick's expected return bolsters a Magic bench that had been coping with injuries and chemistry problems all season. Reserve guard Gilbert Arenas has also been limited by knee and calf injuries that have kept him out of practice and games in recent weeks.

With both Redick and Arenas likely to play, the Magic get two of their top shooters and scorers back on the court to help space the floor and create openings inside for center Dwight Howard.

"Having another shooter out there provides instant offense," Howard said of Redick. "He's a guy who can come off screens and hit shots. He can make good passes off pick-and-rolls. It'll be good for us."

Redick averaged 10.1 points and shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range and a team-best 87.5 percent from the free-throw line in 59 games this season. Arenas missed the last two games of the regular season with a sore left knee, but participated in the team's light shootaround on Saturday.

Van Gundy said conditioning could be a factor with both players, but he didn't foresee a problem working either back into a rotation that's been in flux the past few weeks. Orlando swept Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs last season, but lost three of four in the regular season series this season.

"Our bench has been disrupted for so long, there's nothing that's going to disrupt anything [further]," Van Gundy said. "We've been disrupted. It's not a matter of guys not playing well, it's just we've been disrupted. We've had so many different guys out. We haven't had a chance, at least in five weeks, to establish any kind of rotation. We're going to have to go with it on the fly a little bit."

Michael Wallace covers the NBA for ESPN.com.

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