Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Joe Johnson Ready For Playoff Run

With the regular season winding down, talks about how far the Nets can go in the playoffs are on the rise again. The last time it came up this big was during the off-season, when the Nets re-signed Deron Williams and acquired Joe Johnson. Some figured that a successful season would be to get to the second-round of the playoffs. Others said Eastern Conference Finals or bust. The potential for the Brooklyn Nets varied amongst its fans, but for the players, and Joe Johnson, they have one goal.
“[GM] Billy [King] had faith in all of us to put us all together to make a pretty good [team] and try to bring Brooklyn a championship ring, so that’s our main goal right now.” said Joe Johnson.
Locked into the fourth seed of the Eastern Conference, the Nets will face either the Chicago Bulls or Joe Johnson's former team, the Atlanta Hawks. When asked who he would rather play, Johnson said he believes it doesn't matter because they can beat either of them. He did hint towards the Bulls though, because of the media attention a playoff match-up with the Atlanta Hawks would draw, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

To have a chance at the championship ring, however, would require taking a path blocked by the Miami Heat, baring a surprising first round upset. In the regular season, the Nets were swept by the Miami Heat and the losses weren't very close. Despite this, Joe Johnson has confidence in the team's ability to beat the Heat if given the chance.
“I think our chances [against them] are great,” Johnson said. “Were we successful with them in the regular season? No. But we’ve had games where we’ve shown for a quarter or two or three that we were pretty good against them, so it doesn’t bother us. We’re a confident group, we’re a much different team and in the postseason it’s a lot different than in the regular season.”
A healthier Deron Williams and Brook Lopez in addition to the Nets great play to conclude the regular season are all reasons Joe Johnson gave to support why the games this time would be different from before. It's not insane either, as Deron Williams has been playing at a fascinating level once he got those shots. Winning a playoff series with the Miami Heat is still a reach considering the way the Heat have been playing.

Even with Joe Johnson speaking confidently, his health has been a concern this season. He's missed 10 games for various minor injuries and he still is not a 100%. It isn't enough to stop him from playing in the playoffs as far as we know, but it could be affecting his play. For the season, Joe Johnson in his new role is averaging 16.3 points, 3.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds, all below his career averages. Still, the team has pulled off 48 wins and is looking to make a serious run in the playoffs. Joe Johnson comments on this, as well as his injuries.
“As a team, I think our season was pretty decent considering the fact that we all got thrown together this past summer and it takes time for the cohesiveness to get together, but me, personally, my performance was OK. It could’ve been a lot better, but I’m sure next year, it’ll be even better. But we’ve still got a lot more room for improvement this year, a lot more work to do, many more goals to reach, so this year is not over with. We’ve got big plans.”
“I feel OK (heading into the playoffs),” said Johnson, who added that he’ll definitely play in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against the Detroit Pistons. “Would I say 100 percent? Probably not but I mean, these little knickknack injuries won’t heel up until after the season, so when you get time to rest for a week or two, but that’s no excuse. My play in the postseason will be just fine. Like I said, I’m going to give these guys everything I’ve got.”
After years of infidelity in the swamps of New Jersey, the new Brooklyn Nets are hoping to give their fans what they've been waiting for since the off-season, playoff wins. The team has the potential to go far, but their inconsistent play this season, even between quarters, has brought up questions on how far they can go. Joe Johnson is confident enough in the team's ability, but we'll just have to wait and see.

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