To say that Brooklyn Nets basketball has suffered without Joe Johnson on the court would be an understatement. At times, they’ve looked like a lottery team: sloppy, underwhelming and disappointing. with Johnson on the court, the Nets are +3.5 per 100 possessions, best of any player on the roster. With him off the court, they’re a -4.3 — the worst of any off-court player on the roster.
The Nets have taken their time with Johnson, unwilling to rush him back too early with the playoffs right around the corner. “I am alright,” Johnson said after the game. “I’m maybe a little limited on some of the things I can do out there on the court, but the guys and the coaches are telling me that my presence being out there makes the difference. So I’m giving all I got.”
Johnson, who missed five games with a quad contusion and is also shaking off a sore heel, says it’s not something he thinks will linger.
“It is actually getting better,” Johnson told reporters after the game. “Slowly, but I’m just doing the necessary things to really stay on it by icing it and stim to try and make it feel better each and everyday.”
“My only concern with Joe is the time and his health,” Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said after the game. “If he’s able to recover from his injury in a timely manner, that would be great. We need Joe Johnson and his big shots.”
Joe Johnson has been the Nets closer this year, hitting a barrage of game-winners and playing solid man defense. With just six games remaining in the regular season, the Nets seem locked into the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. A possible playoff matchup with the Chicago Bulls looms — a series that the Bulls won 3-1 this year — and if they want any chance of moving on to the next round, they’ll need Johnson 100%.