Joe Johnson is no stranger to huge playoff moments. After all, you don’t play 12 years in the NBA and get nicknames like “ISO Joe”, “Joe Cool” or “Big Shot Joe” without doing some damage in clutch moments.
After Utah lost center Rudy Gobert to a knee injury after the first play of the game, Johnson, a seven-time All-star with more playoff buzzer-beaters than any current player in the game (8) including LeBron James, did it again by dropping a bucket as time expired to lift Utah to a thrilling 97-95 upset win over Chris Paul and the LA Clippers in the first game of their 2017 Western Conference opening-round playoff series.
The Jazz is a team that is comprised of many solid parts. In order for them to defeat teams with star power, the Jazz have to function as a cohesive unit. Gordon Hayward is about as big of a star as they have on their team.
When Utah elected to add a veteran presence in the offseason, most people felt Johnson was past his prime. But he was the perfect player to add to the mix. A guy who can create his own shot, has made the playoffs the last nine seasons and is known for being able to carry the burden of taking a last second shot.
No one was surprised when Johnson came off the bench to drop a team-high 21 points and help Utah win its first playoff game in seven years -- on the road at that. Utah will need Johnson’s services more frequently in this playoffs as Gobert will probably miss some time with a hyperextension, bone in his left knee.
This playoff series thrusts Johnson back into the spotlight. It’s a familiar place for a high-level journeyman who has played on six NBA teams, but averages almost 17 points per game for his career in the playoffs.
If Utah plans on pulling off a couple of playoff upsets then they have the right veteran in the cut waiting to use his talent, knowledge, experience and assassin's mentality to make some noise in this 2017 playoffs