If the Toronto Raptors want to continue to send double teams at Joe Johnson, Jason Kidd welcomes it.
“We don’t mind all the attention on Joe,” Kidd said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.
Dwane Casey’s Toronto Raptors were able to even this best-of-seven series at 2-2 in part due to their ability to hold Johnson to just seven points and only seven shots.
Johnson went into Game 4 averaging 23.7 points and 60.5% shooting in the first three games.
“We are willing to give it to Joe and allow him to get double-teamed,” Paul Pierce said after Game 4. “And he is going to have to make plays. They are not going to let him beat them. He has been pretty dominant this series. So we expect [the double teams].”
Johnson wasn’t alone in being ineffective down the stretch. Deron Williams scored just 10 points, none coming in the second half in Sunday's 87-79 loss to Toronto.
During the Nets’ Game 3 victory, Williams scored 22 points while Johnson finished with 29 points. The two combined to shoot 18-of-31 from the field. He admitted that he has to be more aggressive in Game 5 in Toronto. Kidd said everybody has to pick up the responsibility of stepping up.
“This is a team loaded with All Stars,” Kidd said when asked why an All Star like Williams has trouble consistently playing aggressively. “It is not so much a problem. For Deron, his energy, having high energy and playing with that energy for 48 minutes on the floor, the rest of the guys follow him.
“So I thought in that first quarter, he was playing with a lot of energy,” Kidd added. “We just weren’t getting stops on the defensive end. For him, it is about playing with that same energy and the intent of being aggressive.”
As much championship experience as Pierce and Kevin Garnett bring to the team, Williams and Johnson are perhaps the more important duo to the Nets’ success in this series. When they play and score at a high level, the Nets are a very difficult team to defend.
In the Nets’ two wins against Toronto, Williams and Johnson averaged a combined 49.5 points and shot a total of 34-for-64 from the field. In the two losses, the duo averaged only a combined 25 points and shot a total of 18-for-47 from the field.
“We didn’t do a lot different,” Casey said of how the Raptors defended the Nets’ duo on a conference call on Monday. “We mixed up our double-team schemes and our double-team coverages. But nothing tremendously.”
“I’m glad because he is such an explosive player,” Casey added when asked if he was surprised Johnson took just seven shots in Game 4. “You just want to make sure you limit as many shots as you can from a great offensive player like Joe Johnson.”
Kidd welcomes the increased attention on Johnson. The other Nets have to step up and make the Raptors pay for doubling Johnson.
“It is not about shots,” Kidd said when asked about Johnson’s shots. “It is about making plays. When you are being double-teamed, making the right plays [is paramount]. [Johnson] did that last night. It’s just [that] we need to make shots and [we] had some great looks. If they do that again, we have to be ready to knock down those same shots.”