Joe Johnson: “I’m just giving them everything I can at this point.”
Josh Newman , Field Reporter
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Johnson has been hobbled by a case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but has toughed out Games 3, 4 and 5 against the Chicago Bulls after taking a cortisone shot prior to Game 3. As the Nets prepare for a win-or-go-home Game 6 at the United Center on Thursday, Johnson provided a better understanding of just how hurt he is.
“Probably not,” Johnson responded after practice on Wednesday afternoon when asked if he would be playing is this were the regular season. “When it first came out in February, we tried to rest it as much as possible but it wasn’t enough time. Like I said, I’m just giving them everything I can at this point.”
The Nets’ starting shooting guard, there has been no minutes restriction on Johnson, who appears intent on going for broke at this point with his team facing elimination once again on Thursday following Monday’s 110-91 Game 5 victory. Despite the injury, he has played at least 39 minutes in each of the last three games, including 48 in Saturday’s Game 4 triple-overtime loss.
“Players always know, they know what guys are going through, particularly this time of the year,” Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “And more so Joe, it’s not just a matter of going out there. He’s got a lot of pain the next day. In this case, we had two days off, which helps a little bit. They know what he’s going through and they appreciate it. That’s what warriors do. Everybody doesn’t do that. That’s what guys who are warriors, guys who are competitors, that’s what they do.”
In that Game 4 loss, Johnson hit an 8-foot runner at the first overtime buzzer to tie the game and send it to a second overtime. That was part of a 22-point effort on 10-for-20 shooting. For the series, he is averaging 16.2 points on 44.7 shooting from the field, but just 29.6 percent from 3-point range.
“People probably don’t appreciate what he’s going through every game to go out there and to play,” Carlesimo said. “Our doctors and trainers wouldn’t put him out there if there was a chance he would injure it any more. It’s injured, he’s done the damage and playing on it is not hurting it any more.”
“The adrenaline factors in a lot, once I get moving on the court and it feels lose it feels better,” Johnson said. “But towards the end of the game, I’m just really so focused and I try to block it out as much as I can and just try to make a big play.”
Reggie Evans doesn’t practice, will play
The Nets’ starting power forward was not at practice with what the team called an illness. He will travel with the team to Chicago and is expected to play and start in Game 6.
Game 7 scenarios
On Tuesday afternoon, the NBA released several scenarios regarding a start time for a potential Game 7 on Saturday evening in Brooklyn.
If both this series and Nuggets-Warriors go to a Game 7, Bulls-Nets would be a 7:30 p.m. start. If the Warriors close out the Nuggets in Game 6 on Thursday evening, Bulls-Nets would be moved back to an 8 p.m. tip.
The Warriors currently lead the Nuggets, 3-2, with Game 6 slated for Thursday evening at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Regardless of when Bulls-Nets concludes, the winner will head to Miami to take on the defending NBA-champion Heat on Monday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA