The Nets haven’t had a good start to their second-round series against the Miami Heat. They’ve lost two games to the defending champions, the first in third-quarter blowout fashion and the second in fourth-quarter blowout fashion. But that didn’t stop Joe Johnson from telling Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that he believes the Nets, outside of their top two players, are more talented than Miami:
Nets swingman Joe Johnson amused me Wednesday with this: “Outside of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, we’re more talented than them.” (And outside of the beach and culture, there’s more to do in Scranton than Miami.)
First of all, let’s not mis-read or over-read this: he’s not saying the Nets are more talented than the Heat overall, He’s saying that the Nets are more talented than the Heat without their top two players. Which, sure, and the Accademia is less appealing when you take out the statue of David. (Which apparently might happen: David’s apparently inherited Deron Williams’s balky ankles. But hey, he did beat Goliath, so anything is possible.)
But Johnson’s unwavering confidence has been a staple of his Nets tenure: he always believes the Nets have a chance to compete, he believes in his own abilities, and he trusts his teammates to get the job done. Whether or not that’s a reality is entirely another matter — Chris Bosh has been better than every Nets player this season — but I have to believe that’s the context of what he was saying: the Nets have a roster flush with currently underperforming talent and a deep bench, and the Heat are top-heavy. That seems like his broader point.
This isn’t a great time to promote Brooklyn’s strengths, given that they’ve looked terrible in two games against Miami and their aged stars look like they’re turning into white dwarfs. But there’s definite talent on this Nets roster, even if they haven’t looked like it this week. Less than a week ago, Paul Pierce threw back a series-saving block after Johnson put up 12 fourth-quarter points. Deron Williams saved Brooklyn’s fortunes in Game 6, and Kevin Garnett put up a double-double in 26 minutes in Game 7.
Johnson’s not making a ridiculous point, he’s making the point that he has faith in his team… as long as the Heat don’t have their two best players. Well, that’s not so good.