EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Sure, it’s only three games.
But Joe Johnson has been $21.5 million good for the Brooklyn Nets so far in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series with the Toronto Raptors, averaging 23.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting.
“I think [he’s underrated],” Kevin Garnett said Saturday. “But I also think Joe don’t really care, though. He kind of likes to fly under the radar. He really is a soft-spoken guy, great human being and one of the funniest people you will ever meet. You’re not going to hear much from him.
“A lot of his examples is through him doing it himself, not through verbal. But when he has something to say, he’s definitely going to have something to say when it’s time to speak. Me, being a veteran. Paul [Pierce] and I being a veteran, they kind of lean on us to be a lot more vocal, because we are vocal, but, man, it doesn’t come any better than Joe Johnson. He’s as cool as the other side of the pillow. He’s as cool as it comes.”
Joe Cool's playoff lines:
Game 1: 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting in 45 minutes
Game 2: 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting in 37 minutes
Game 3: 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting in 40 minutes
“He's, what, a seven-time All-Star?” Deron Williams said. “He means a lot to this team, you see what he's doing, especially down the stretch for us: He's causing mismatches, causing problems, he's making the right passes, so I definitely think he's underappreciated. But we appreciate him, as far as what's in the locker room and our coaching staff, he's definitely not underappreciated.”
Said coach Jason Kidd: “He’s very professional. He comes to work every day. You can ask him to play 48 minutes, play 30 minutes, and he’s going to do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
Johnson is glad to be a part of the Nets after being traded to Brooklyn from Atlanta in summer 2012.
“It’s been a great change, man,” Johnson said. “I’ve enjoyed playing here in Brooklyn. I think just it’s opened my eyes to different things, it’s gave me new life so to speak. And then plus coming into this second year with the group we got championship expectations. I’ve never went into a season with those expectations.”
• Garnett had a funny quote when asked about Johnson and Williams playing well together: “It just makes us difficult to guard. We have different weapons on this team. When the head of Voltron is at its best, it’s very hard to deal with.”