Nets Practice Light as Johnson Heals
BROOKLYN—After Friday's game against the Rockets, the Brooklyn Nets participated in a light practice Saturday, stretching, shooting and lifting ahead of tomorrow's nationally televised game against the Grizzlies at Barclays Center.
Coach P.J. Carlesimo said that shooting guard Joe Johnson (sore heel) was questionable for Sunday's game, and he's hopeful that the injury resolves itself within the next few days. Between that and the ankle inflammation suffered by Deron Williams, Carlesimo believes keeping his players healthy for the stretch run is more important than winning the division, though one must factor the conference standings.
"People don’t probably give (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) credit for biting that bullet and saying, ‘That’s it – I’m not going to play (All-NBA forward Tim) Duncan today, I’m not going to play this other guy today.’ And most people won’t do that. We could be looking at having to do that because it’s the best thing for Deron and Joe. It’s probably wrong right now to put Joe in that category; Deron’s in that category for sure. Hopefully Joe won’t be, but he may well be."
Johnson said that the heel soreness first flared up during the Pacers game preceding All-Star Weekend, and again during the Denver game. He rested during the break, participating in hot yoga but no basketball activity, and played through some discomfort during both Monday's practice and Tuesday's overtime victory (when he hit buzzer beaters at the end of regulation and OT).
But the veteran guard awoke in Milwaukee with enough pain that he had to "crawl out of bed," and though Johnson was able to play that night, his game suffered; Johnson shot just 3-of-14 and scored fewer than 10 points for the first time in more than two months.
"It was hurting so bad, man," Johnson said. "And I went down to the breakfast meeting and our trainer was like, ‘You all right?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m all right. I just got to loosen up a little bit.' And it never loosened up, but I still tried to play. I played through it but I don’t know. It was tough."
Johnson said he's taking the injury, originally thought to be plantar fasciitis, day-by-day and isn't sure about his status for Sunday. Having been to the playoffs in six straight seasons, Johnson knows that the lack of back-to-backs will help him and other banged-up players recover more readily for each game.
"First and foremost, you have to take care of your body," Johnson said. "You look ahead and you’re noticing when you get to the playoffs – maybe some guys aren’t thinking about it – but you get a lot more rest than you do in the regular season. Hopefully it works out to our advantage and we can position ourselves for the best spot possible in the postseason."