Former Net Joe Johnson has the Clippers on the brink

Johnson (AP)
Johnson (AP)
Johnson (AP)

Joe Johnson has taken advantage of his playoff time in Utah and, for some reason, it’s come to surprise most NBA fans. Across the country, fans couldn’t believe their eyes when Johnson single-handedly carried the Jazz through some important playoff moments, asking if Joe had always been this clutch. Well, in fact, Nets fans have seen first-hand what Joe Jesus provides in the clutch and it is holy.

Of course, Johnson began this postseason with the game-winning floater in the Jazz’s first playoff game in five years. Johnson called for an ISO against the poor-defending Jamal Crawford, beat him to the inside, and hit a high-arcing floater over a leaping DeAndre Jordan, kissing of the back of the rim and falling as time expired. Buckets.

Clippers owner Steve Balmer after Johnson's game five dagger.
Clippers owner Steve Balmer after Johnson’s game five dagger.

A week or so later, Game 5, series tied at 2-2, time winding down: Johnson forces the Clippers into a switch on a high pick-and-roll. He hits Luc Mbah a Moute with that patented behind the back step back with an effortless machine-like prowess. Splash. Silencing the Clippers faithful and stunning owner Steve Balmer.

“We had tried a few different things, people set screens for me but it wasn’t that successful. So coach had me set the pick, and I got free and got a good look, and knocked it down,” Johnson said on his Game 5 dagger.

If you’ll recall, Johnson has also put forward some clutch performances with the Nets in the postseason, beginning with that very first playoff series in Brooklyn against the Chicago Bulls.

Fans are quick to remember Paul Pierce’s series-clinching block in Toronto for Game 7 of the 2014 NBA playoffs, but Joe Johnson rattled off 11 straight points in the fourth quarter. Even more clutch, Johnson was the only Net to score for an important six-minute stretch, carrying the team until the waning moments of the fourth quarter. That coming after Johnson was tied up with Raptors forward Terrance Ross in the third quarter of Game 7.

“I was just trying to be aggressive. Early on, I took my turn, picked my spots,  they gave me a few different looks with Patterson guarding me, a little bigger of a guy,” Johnson said on his game seven performance in 2014.

Johnson has blessed fans with his playoff performances before, including this spectacular second half in 2014 vs the Miami Heat in the second round.

Fast forward to this season, Johnson in a reduced role averaged 9.2 points off the bench, he’s almost doubled that in the playoffs at 18.2. At 35-years-old, he’s playing 32 minutes a night and still shooting at more than 50 percent from the field — even better is his 59 percent effective field goal percentage (stat adjusted to fact that a three is worth more than a two in FG%).

Johnson is 19th in the NBA in clutch time field goal percentage. Why? Because no player in the Top 18 has taken more than two shots and ISO  Joe is 7-for-8 from the field in the final five minutes of games within five points. The Jazz now have a chance to finish off Los Angeles at home on Friday. Keep it up Joe, we’re rooting for you.

Keep it up, Joe, we’re rooting for you.