As far as national sports news goes this past week, “Joe Johnson signs with the Miami Heat” probably registered just slightly below whatever Johnny Manziel ate for lunch on Wednesday and several notches below “holy hell, did you see what Steph Curry did THIS week?” but probably, there was no more significant event in the NBA during the same time frame.
It’s important to not take too much away from one game in New York against a mostly mediocre-at-best Knicks team, but anyone wondering whether or not Johnson had a little kick in his knickers left to at least make the Heat at worst a pest, at best a contender, should have been encouraged by the initial results.
Johnson started, shot 5-10, hit Miami’s only three (his first bucket) and scored 10 points in the debut. It’s not earth-shattering stuff, but in an Eastern Conference where the Cavs seem to be sniping, and no one else is emerging, the Heat could be extra pesky with JJ finding his second wind.
For one, Miami is abhorrent at making the three-pointer part of their arsenal on offense. They’re 28th in the league, and even though Johnson hit their one and only three Sunday night, suggesting he’s not going to just be Steve Kerr sitting out there, he spaces the floor more because you have to honor it.
Miami also found usefulness for him in the post, again, allowing guys like Dwyane Wade more opportunity to cut to the hoop. Erik Spoelstra has proven to be pretty adept at finding a guy to fill that guard-forward distributor role, if you recall how he used that Lebron James fellow.
Johnson’s role tonight looked a bit like a poor man’s Lebron, using Johnson in the post to draw a double-team, getting him going to the basket on Wade’s side so it was up to Joe to beat his man one-on-one for a shot or risk Wade running free … it looked very much like what the Heat did with some of their small lineups with Lebron and Wade playing off of one another.
Now, all of the rainbows and gumdrops aside, Johnson on the Heat probably isn’t balancing the power of the Eastern Conference more than making it potentially really interesting, but if Chris Bosh can come back into any role and Johnson can continue to flourish in a poor-man’s Lebron role, the show of hands of teams that want to play Miami won’t be enough to fill an outhouse.
The feeling of playing them in a series to keep your season alive, however, may end up stinking.