Howard Megdal asks the not-so-obvious (or is it?) question after Saturday's emotional win over the Heat: are the Nets Joe Johnson's team? The quiet storm that is the 6'8" swingman has shown in this year's playoffs what he can bring.
Despite all the buzz for the players around him, it's increasingly looked like these may be Joe Johnson's Brooklyn Nets," writes Megal for SportsOnEarth. "And during these playoffs, we've begun to see what that Nets team might look like."
Johnson, whose All-Star selection --his seventh-- created a bit of controversy, has been the Nets go-to guy in both the Toronto and Miami series, turning the Raptor series around in the Game 5 comeback.
His numbers only tell part of the story, but they are quite the story. These are Joe Johnson's best playoffs of his career, as Megdal writes.
He's averaging 20.1 points a game, shooting 52.2 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from three, with a player efficiency of 18.4, up from 15.5 in the regular season.
Indeed, part of Johnson's rise has been the result of a number of factors: Deron Williams seeming abdication of a leadership role, Brook Lopez's injuries and the mounting birthday celebrations of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But his heroics over the last four games have shown, he's up to the task, argues Megdal. Jason Kidd agrees.
So does LeBron James.
"He's an unbelievable player," James said of Johnson. "He plays at his own tempo. You can't speed him up. And he's a big body, too, so he can get physical with us as well," and with this, James gave a small, rueful laugh. "He's a really solid, great player that we have in our league."
- Joe Johnson could be the centerpiece the Nets need - Howard Megdal - Sports On Earth