The Brooklyn Nets opened the door for the Chicago Bulls to come storming back in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series, and Joe Johnson’s injury doesn’t bode well for the Nets as they go on the road for Game 3.
According to Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times, Johnson may miss Thursday’s game with plantar fasciitis—the same condition that hobbled the shooting guard earlier this season.
The 31-year-old understands the healing process for recovering from his injury but also knows he doesn’t have the luxury of taking it easy at this point in the season (as quoted by Schonbrun):
It may have been a little bit of plantar fasciitis in February when it first started. Now it’s deep into the plantar fasciitis. It’s just something I’ll have to fight through. It lingered here and there. I had my good days and bad days. It’s just something that needs rest and I don’t have time for it right now.
Despite losing Game 2, 90-82, the final result could have been much worse if not for Johnson’s phenomenal fourth-quarter performance. The shooting guard scored 10 of his 17 points in that frame, punctuated by two three-pointers to bring the Nets within four points of the lead.
Should Johnson miss Game 3 in Chicago, Brooklyn will have some big questions to answer at the offensive end of the floor. Only Johnson and Brook Lopez scored better than 10 points in the Nets' Game 2 loss, despite some favorable matchups against the Bulls’ backcourt and Joakim Noah suffering from the same injury that is currently bothering Johnson.
With Johnson potentially on the shelf, the Nets will be forced to turn to 24-year-old shooting guard MarShon Brooks to fill the vacancy and jump-start an offense that scored just 82 points on Monday. While the Providence product has averaged just 12.5 minutes this season, he’s only managed 5.4 points per contest and does little to instill confidence in the Nets going forward.
|2012 Season||Joe Johnson||MarShon Brooks|
With the next two games (and three of the final five) on the road in this series, the Nets put themselves behind the eight ball in dropping Game 2 at home. The Bulls have struggled at the offensive end this season with Derrick Rose on the shelf, but they boast the No. 3 defense in the league and will have an even easier task in shutting down Brooklyn if Johnson is forced to miss any time going forward.
Brooklyn has to find a way to split its next two games in Chicago (especially if Johnson doesn’t play) in order to have a chance to put the Bulls away or at least return home for Game 7. Don’t expect that to be an easy task.
The road to the Eastern Conference finals is littered with difficult matchups, strong defenses and explosive offenses. The Nets have the talent to elude those perils in making a postseason push, but playing at less than full strength stacks the odds against them going froward.