Deron Williams’ importance to the success of the Brooklyn Nets has been well-documented throughout the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The Nets live and die by how committed and how productive the often up-and-down point guard is on the floor, especially over the past two years in the postseason. His inconsistency and struggles have essentially determined how things end up.
However, in their series with the Toronto Raptors that will see its final chapter played out on Sunday afternoon, the Nets have to look towards veteran shooting guard Joe Johnson to help them close out this series. Quite frankly, he’s been their driving force throughout this series and his value can’t be ignored.
Looking back over the six games that have already been played, Johnson has been one of the biggest performers for Brooklyn. For the series, he’s averaging 21.2 points, 2.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from beyond-the-arc.
What’s more curious about Johnson’s impact on this series, though, is how he’s affected their wins and losses against the Raptors. In two of the three losses of the Nets in this series, thus far, Johnson has played only a small role in the Nets’ offense. Granted, he had his biggest game of the series in a loss as well, but that really just highlights the need for Johnson to have a sizeable and balanced role in the offense for Brooklyn.
Johnson is often criticized for not being worth what he’s paid, but he’s still a highly effective and big-time offensive player. He can shoot from all over the floor and create his own shot. In this series in particular, he also has the size and strength to take Toronto’s wings into the post and put in work in that area of the floor. If the Nets want to avoid another first-round exit, they have to make sure Johnson is involved.