Joe Johnson to make Miami Heat debut at New York Knicks Sunday
What if Joe Johnson was bought out five hours earlier? Or what if the Miami Heat were scheduled to play the Boston Celtics at six or seven instead of three? Would Joe Johnson have been able to help the Heat improve on their 1-13 shooting from three?
These all are questions Pat Riley and Eric Spolestra probably had running through their mind, as a short-handed 9-man Miami Heat team ran out of gas against the Boston Celtics.
The Heat loss on Saturday was devastating in terms of seeding in the Eastern Conference. The Heat were well positioned to tie the Celtics for the three seed, with a 12-point lead in the first half. However, with the Celtics outscoring the Heat 55-40 in the second half, the Celtics extended their lead to two games over the Heat for the two seed.
And if you want to get into season tie-breakers, it's technically a three game lead, with the Celtics winning the season series 2-0, with only one game remaining. Not only that, the Heat's lead over the 9th place Pistons shrunk 2.5 games. The Heat now have little margin for error, with 24 games left in the 2015-2016 season.
Luckily for the Heat, they catch a bit of a break on Sunday, as they take on a New York Knicks team that is 25-35 and has gone just 3-13 in their past 16 games. The Knicks however are coming off a win against the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
The Heat will hope to clinch their season series victory over the Knicks tonight, as they currently lead the season series 2-1, with however their last matchup resulting in a loss.
Maybe Dwyane Wade has another huge Madison Garden performance in his system?
X-Factor: Joe Johnson
Gerald Green, who was supposed to be the Heat's 3-point specialist, has been extremely cold of late. He is shooting just 31 percent from 3-point range this season, way down from his 36 percent career mark. Since going 4 for 8 against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 13th, Green has shot 19 percent from 3.
With Chris Bosh and Tyler Johnson likely done for the season, that mark has killed all the spacing the Heat have on offense and bogged down the offense at times, much like it did against the Celtics on Saturday.
This is why Joe Johnson was a key signing for the Miami Heat.
No, he's not the same star that combined with Josh Smith and Al Horford to knock the Heat out of the playoffs in 2009, right before the big 3 formed and Wade was alone in Miami. However, he can still knock down his open 3-point shots.
Johnson is shooting 37 percent from three this year. He has shot 46 percent both since the New Year and in the month of February. JJ has been a 37 percent shooter from three for his career. Johnson can still score, however not at an effective clip.
Joe Johnson's three-point shooting could be a major player for the Heat the rest of the way. They desperately need his shooting on a team that has struggled to do so all season.
He is not here to replace Chris Bosh, because only a handful of players in the NBA hold that ability to do so.
Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 23rd, 101.6 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 6th, 100.4 points allowed per 100 possessions
New York Knicks offensive efficiency: 18th, 102.6 points per 100 possessions
New York Knicks defensive efficiency: 20th, 105.2 points allowed per 100 possessions