The plantar fasciitis Joe Johnson was dealing with during February and early March has returned and with the Nets currently tied at one game apiece in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Chicago it is something Johnson has been forced to accept and cope with.
Johnson did not practice Wednesday and the Nets are officially listing him as a game-time decision, though Johnson and interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo did not sound alarmed and seem to believe the shooting guard will play Thursday night.
“Hopefully, [I can play],” Johnson said. “This is valuable for us. We’ve battled. We’ve been through ups and downs the whole year. I’m going to do whatever I can to be out there.”
“It’s unfortunate but injuries happen and hopefully he’s going to be OK,” Carlesimo said. “If he’s not, other guys have to pick it up.”
In his first two playoff games as a Net, Johnson is 13-for-31 from the field. He started Game 2 3-for-5 in the first quarter, but was 3-for-13 the rest of the game.
According to Johnson, at some point in the first quarter the ailment flared up again. He did not specify the exact moment in the period but from the 6:04 mark to the 1:34 mark, Johnson hit a fastbreak layup, a nine-foot floating jumper and a 3-pointer.
His final shot of the first quarter was a missed 3-pointer, which began a stretch of eight straight misses until a 3-pointer with 5:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“That’s no excuse, man,” Johnson said. “It was definitely a game that got away that we should’ve won. I’m a little sore but I’ll be able to give them what I got.”
Johnson missed four games with what the team said was a sore let heel and seemed to be over it but said it lingered and that it was a small amount of plantar fasciitis. Since these games significantly more crucial than regular season games in the middle of the winter, there is little time to cope with it other than just rest and treatment.
“I think it may have been a little bit of plantar fasciitis in February when it first started,” Johnson said. “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.”
Johnson is not the only player in this series dealing with a painful foot injury. Chicago’s Joakim Noah has played nearly 40 minutes with a foot injury while totaling 15 points and 15 rebounds but, as Johnson pointed out, the duties of a shooting guard are vastly different than a center.
“I’m chasing guys off screens, penetrating [and] cutting,” Johnson said. “He’s a big man, so it’s a lot different.”
And like Noah, even though both were considered game-time decisions, nobody is expecting Johnson to sit.
“Oh, he’ll play,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters at Bulls’ practice. “Don’t worry.”
Adjustments critical for Williams
For many players the best defense mechanism about a bad performance is to merely shrug it off and chalk it up to “one of those days.” That’s the method Deron Williams selected when discussing his 1-for-9 showing in Game 2.
“I had a bad game,” Williams said. “It happens. Relax.”
The Nets will hardly be in a position to relax if it happens again. The main cause was the constant double teams he faced in various pick-and-roll situations and away from the basket.
“They got two people on him, particularly in the pick and rolls,” Carlesimo said. “He was able to split it a lot but they got two people on him. When he comes off screens, they got two people on him and he saw a loaded floor, which they do. When you get into the paint, there’s people there. There’s three, four or five people there. I’m sure they did some things different. I think it was more they did things better.”
In the times that he did not face a double team, Williams missed four open 3-pointers by his count. In Game 1 he made two 3-pointers and attacked the rim, as he was 7-for-9 on shots from 10 feet or less as opposed to his 1-for-3 showing in that category Monday.
“I missed shots and let them dictate what I was doing a little bit and just got a little passive but I’ll be fine,” Williams said. “I had four open 3s that I missed. I make those, that’s 12 more points and we’re not even talking about it.”
And it seems the best way to counter the slew of defenders is to drive to the rim with more aggressiveness like Williams did on Saturday.
“Be aggressive but read what’s there from the defense and when it’s appropriate and when you can get it to the rim and when we want you to attack — attack,” Carlesimo said of how Williams can respond. “When it’s not, take what they give us.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.