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Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Hawks will try Johnson at 2

By Chris Forsberg

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Hawks are moving Joe Johnson to starting shooting guard for Game 5.
ATLANTA -- With their backs against the wall, the Hawks have made the long anticipated move of starting Joe Johnson at shooting guard for Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Celtics.

Entering the series, there was much debate about whether Johnson would be matched up against Celtics second-year guard Avery Bradley and if he could exploit his size advantage in the post. Now, with the Hawks down 3 games to 1 and looking for a jolt, coach Larry Drew said after the team's morning shootaround, that Johnson will start at 2 guard (Marvin Williams at the 3) and see if the team can force the issue a bit more (particularly with Bradley nursing a tender left shoulder after dislocating it in Game 3).

According to Synergy Sports data, Johnson has posted up only 10 possessions through four games (leading to nine points; a quality success rate). None of those post-ups have come against Bradley, instead Johnson has been working almost exclusively against Paul Pierce and Mickael Pietrus.

The Celtics have committed a healthy amount of double teams to prevent Johnson from having too many chances around the basket and coach Doc Rivers said the stats can be somewhat misleading because he's creating offense on the other side of the floor when Boston swarms.

"[Johnson is] just tough, he really is," said Rivers. "I wish there was a stat of 'points created.' They always have it for shot-blockers, they have stats that show how many shots they change, but they don’t count as shot blocks. With Joe, even when he’s not scoring, he creates points for them. Because he makes you double team. We’re loading to his side. And so we actually count that as a point scored for Joe.

"He’s creating a lot of points for them still. He scores on his own, makes tough shots, and we’ve done a pretty good job with our double teams on him. But we still have to do a better job of eliminating the points that he creates. In all the games, he’s done that very well. Even if he’s not trying to do it, he’s doing it because he’s got our attention."

Pressed on what those numbers that the Celtics keep on Johnson's total offensive production look like, Rivers quipped, "It’s for us, not for you guys."