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Duke the only bond for Celtics’ Williams, Magic’s Redick

Former temmates not close as NBA professionals

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 29, 2010

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The Celtics’ Shelden Williams and the Magic’s J.J. Redick spent four years together in Krzyzewskiville, the faces of Duke basketball from the time they stepped on campus in 2002 to the time they left in 2006, winning 116 games and going to the Final Four in 2004.

They were captains their senior year along with Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni. Williams and Redick were taken in the first round of the 2006 draft. Redick went to the Magic at No. 11. Atlanta took Williams with the fifth pick.

Redick’s shooting helped him find a niche, but Williams has bounced around, trying to find the right fit.

Asked about his relationship with Williams, Redick said, “We haven’t talked this series. We’re not like, ‘He’s my guy,’ but he’s a good guy. But we haven’t talked this series for the reasons you’d expect.’’

When asked if they’ve talked since they’ve been in the NBA, Williams said bluntly, “Nope.’’

Williams said the two were never close at Duke, and even though he keeps in touch with several of his Blue Devils teammates, he doesn’t have much of a relationship with Redick and never really had one.

“That’s just the way it is,’’ Williams said. “We just don’t talk.’’

Redick has emerged in the Eastern Conference finals, averaging 12 points through five games.

“We didn’t know he was going to be Pistol Pete coming into this series,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “But we did expect him to be a great player. J.J. Redick has hurt us all year in the regular season. It was one of the things we talked about going into the series.

“J.J. Redick has been very, very important. He was last year in the playoffs against us, he’s played very well against us in the regular season, and he’s played well again against us in the playoffs now. Everyone’s talking about Dwight Howard and Jameer [Nelson]. I think J.J. Redick has been their most consistent player in this series.’’

Redick has averaged more minutes against the Celtics (26.8) than in either of Orlando’s previous two series. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has kept him on the floor instead of offseason addition Vince Carter, leading to murmurs Redick should start. Van Gundy’s response is that Redick is a better matchup against Ray Allen than he was in the Charlotte or Atlanta series against bigger, more physical guards in Stephen Jackson and Joe Johnson.

“Stan is big on matchups and perceived matchups,’’ Redick said. “I understood that in the Charlotte and the Atlanta series, and I expected to play more in this series.’’

Despite a promising start to the season, Williams faded out of Rivers’s rotation, occasionally spelling the big men when they were either injured or playing poorly.

One of the few times Williams said he talked with Redick as professionals was after the first Magic-Celtics regular-season meeting. Redick played just six minutes and Williams played eight, and they talked about waiting for the right opportunity.

“When the series is over, whenever that is, I’ll talk to him,’’ Redick said.

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