Posted on: October 7th, 2014 by Andrew Gnerre Comments

 

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AP

AP


Joe Johnson on Twitter

Height: 6'7"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Date of Birth: June 29, 1981
Years Pro: 13
Before NBA: University of Arkansas
Drafted: 10th overall, 2001 NBA Draft
Nickname: Joe Jesus, Joe Cool, Armadillo Cowboy
- Full Stats -

Joe Johnson is the only Brooklyn Net that matters at this point. He’s really the only Brooklyn Net who’s ever mattered.

Since the Nets entered the borough with the fury, bravado and pedigree of a preschooler determined to spell his name correctly for the first time ever, they’ve been in over their heads (even if they didn’t know it and certainly didn’t act like it). They claimed they were aiming at immortality, but the barrel of the gun has been pointing squarely at mediocrity the entire time. And the dude who’s been successfully pulling the trigger on ordinary for his first two years as a Net, and the rest of his NBA career? Joe Marcus Johnson from Little Rock, Arkansas.

It’s near impossible to say what Joe will do this season or what Joe needs to do this season, because that all depends on how everyone else performs. Joe is the Jenga block holding this entire tower upright. He may not always stand out from the other blocks, but please believe that he is weight-bearing.

No matter what the Nets have needed in Brooklyn to become or remain slightly above average, Joe has delivered. If they were tied with the Pistons at the end of the second overtime and needed a win to impress Jerry Seinfeld (sitting courtside) and enrage Lawrence Frank (coaching the Detroit), Joe was there. If they needed a 10 three-pointers and 29 points in a quarter against the 76ers, Joe was there. If they needed someone to post up the young guys on Toronto in the playoffs and score on nearly every play, Joe was there. If they needed nothing more than like nine points because the rest of the team was playing well, Joe was there, too.

For the first season, all the Nets needed from Joe to become a middling basketball team was a very steady stream of very average basketball. And Joe flooded Brooklyn with average basketball. Most of his stats, both standard and advanced, were his least impressive since his Phoenix days. After having built a career primarily on his scoring ability, he averaged 16.3 points on 42 percent shooting in the inaugural Brooklyn season, his lowest marks since he was a spry 22-year-old in Phoenix. But the Nets won 49 games, so Joe could gaze upon harvest with pride. He had put in another year of honest work for a playoff basketball team. He could smile, close the screen door and head up to bed.

But the following season, the Nets were reeling. Their offseason fireworks weren’t yielding the instant championship caliber team that Mikhail is constantly chasing. And then Brook Lopez broke. By January 2, the Nets had earned a 10-21 record. If they were going to ever reclaim mediocrity, they were going to need a superhero who could yank them back up to the middle. So Joe Johnson asked Jason Kidd for the ball in Oklahoma City with the game tied at 93 with just a few seconds left. He crossed up Serge Ibaka twice, and the rest is history.

What exactly the Nets need from Joe this season is still a bit unclear. The team is, once again, hitching their apple wagon to the health of Deron Williams’s ankles and Lopez’s feet. They are, once again, hoping that a handful of unproven-but-promising young guys and past-their-prime veterans over-perform on the aggregate. Again, the discussion about Joe quickly turns to the rest of the team, but that’s because the guy’s sole directive is to serve the team, to fill in or fall back where needed.

As such, Joe doesn’t get too much time in season previews anymore because Joe isn’t the x-factor. So many previews are about “If player X does this, then…” If Williams can revert back to his Utah days and Beşiktaş nights, then the Nets will win some games. If Lopez can stay on the basketball court, then the Nets will win some games. If Garnett can play enough minutes… If Bojan Bogdanovic’s Paul Pierce impression is good enough… If a bench unit of Jarrett Jack, Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson can concoct the type of pandemonium needed from a bench unit… If Mason “You’re the man now” Plumdog Millionaire learned some life lessons while in Spain…

But there aren’t any “ifs” for Joe Johnson. There isn’t any point in writing “If Joe Johnson…” because Joe Johnson doesn’t “if,” Joe Johnson “whens.” And when the season starts, Joe Johnson will be there for the Nets, doing whatever he needs to do, just to make sure they’re okay.

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Joe Johnson

AP

Joe Johnson: 79 G, 79 GS, 32.6 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.59 SPG, 0.13 BPG, .454 FG% .401 3P%, .815 FT%, 15.54 PER, 6.5 EWA
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JOE JOHNSON RISING


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AP

AP

With all the attention on LeBron James' dominant 49-point performance in Game 4 that led the Miami Heat to a 102-96 victory, it's easy to lose sight of everything else. But one thing caught our eye: Joe Johnson and Deron Williams's offensive output not only didn't rise to some playoff-worthy output, it didn't even rise to their own averages during the year.

Williams finished the night just 5-14 from the field and 1-3 from three-point range, hitting both of his free throws for 13 points. Johnson finished the night 5-15 from the field and 2-7 from three-point range, hitting all six of his free throws for 18 points.

Let's keep it simple: given their shot selection, if Williams and Johnson had merely played at their average level in terms of field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage, Williams and Johnson together would have scored between 7-8 more points total. The Nets lost by six.

Shots are difficult to come across in the playoffs, especially against arguably the league's best team. Johnson also said that James's flop on Johnson's last shot of the game threw his balance off. In any one game, anything can happen. But if "Brooklyn's Backcourt" underperforms again with the season on the line, the year could end tonight.

 


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AP584301606996

Joe Johnson is our series MVP. (AP)

People remember moments. We'll remember Paul Pierce's Nets series-saving block in the same breath we'll remember Damian Lillard's Trail Blazers series-clinching three-pointer. We'll remember Kevin Garnett lunging for a loose ball like it held his life force.
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Nets Raptors Basketball

The Nets and Raptors start their playoff series Saturday in Toronto. (AP)

 

What had happened was: The Nets cast aside their usual uniforms and instead collectively donned a massive white flag in the final game of the regular season, which they lost 114-85 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game mercifully brought to an end a streak of uninspired, boring basketball the Nets largely played over the final two weeks.

The Nets made rest their first priority, as Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Garnett, Alan Anderson, and Mirza Teletovic sat this one out. Instead, the Nets fielded a vaunted five of Jorge Gutierrez, Marquis Teague, Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche, and Jason Collins. Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee made appearances of the bench, which was weird, because I wasn’t used to seeing NBA players on the court when they got in the game.

That was: A chore. No one wanted to watch the Nets’ collection of also-rans come out and skirmish with a non-playoff game when the team clearly didn’t give a damn, and this was in many senses not even an NBA game.

Where they stand: After a few days of jockeying, the dust has settled. The Nets will take the No. 6 seed and play the Toronto Raptors, who beat the New York Knicks Wednesday to cement their spot in the No. 3 seed, in the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 will take place at the Air Canada Centre Saturday on ESPN. Time TBD. With the loss, the Nets locked a spot in Miami’s half of the Eastern Conference bracket, which means Brooklyn will play No. 2 Miami in the second round if the Nets advance and Miami takes care of business against No. 7 Charlotte.

This came amid much dismay that the Nets would have to play the Chicago Bulls in the first round once again. The No. 4 Bulls will instead play the No. 5 Washington Wizards.

The stats: Well, they weren’t great. Marcus Thornton led the Nets with 20 points on 6-of-19 shooting — and shoot he did. The cuffs were off for Thornton, who is not shy about shooting in the first place. This was an exhibition in gunning.

Andray Blatche posted 20 points (8-of-18 shooting) and 12 rebounds and featured his usual collection of moves and hilarity. Andrei Kirilenko MADE A PAIR OF FREE THROWS and I don’t care about anything else he did.

Jason Collins was set free to fire, logging eight points on eight shots. The lumbering big man played 39 minutes, and you have to figure he’ll never play that many in an NBA game again.

Shot Chart Rorschach Test: A Christmas-themed square donut.
donut

Is Marquis Teague in the D-League yet? That’s a nope.

Game Grades: Read 'em here.

Was this wise? Maybe. Williams needed the rest. If Johnson needed it, he never would have told you so. Pierce has his shoulder thingy, and Garnett sweats a new ocean after each two-minute stint. There were reasons not to care, but there were also reasons to try and avoid Miami in the second round and stay in rhythm.

Also, I take a little more seriously Jason Kidd’s assertion that Garnett’s minutes load won’t increase in the playoffs given that he had absolutely no chance to increase it incrementally during the regular season. The Nets can probably only count on him for 22 minutes a game in the postseason.

WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?

Shaun Livingston, not doin’ things: He didn’t play. That toe is really actin’ up.

Can you give me a comparison for the number of fast-break dunks the Nets gave up in the second half? Sure thing!

Across the river: The Knicks lost to the Toronto Raptors, putting to bed their miserable season and giving them 37 wins, matching the SCHOENE projection that Knicks fans were quick to call absurd before the season began.

Take that, Masai Ujiri.

Next up: The Nets start what they’ve been building toward since Jan. 1. Saturday they get to show that they really were built for the playoffs.

 

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