Joe Johnson came out on Friday night and was everything that you could ask of the veteran guard for the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night against the Miami Heat. Johnson came out and lit up Miami in the first quarter for 22 points on 9-10 shooting and set the tone for the double overtime victory for Brooklyn on a national stage.
At this current juncture in the 2013-14 NBA season for the Nets, Johnson’s production is incredibly vital to their success. With Brook Lopez out for the rest of the season due to a foot injury and Deron Williams currently out and slowed by a lingering ankle injury, the Nets need Johnson to step up and be a leader both in the vocal and performance sense.
On Saturday night against the streaking Toronto Raptors, Johnson’s importance was shown by means of his lack of performance against the Raps. In 32 minutes, Johnson put up just 11 points, six boards and six assists while shooting only 4-13 from the field and 0-4 from three. Unsurprisingly and completely related, the Nets lost by a score of 96-80.
With arguably their two best players out, Kevin Garnett having to sit out the second night of back-to-backs, and Paul Pierce hardly being the reliable player that he once was, Johnson is the most vital piece in terms of the Nets getting things back on track. Over their three-game win-streak, Johnson had three games of 23 points or more with him shooting over 45 percent from the field in all three. In one of the other two games, he happened to hit a game-winning jumper at the end of regulation.
Johnson can be one of the most exciting players in the league when he’s firing on all cylinders. More than him being an enigma, though, the Nets need him to be a rock until they can at least get some of their injuries figured out. If not, results like the one on Saturday are going to happen.