The Miami Heat beat Portland on Sunday with the help of some new faces, or at least it seems that way. Are James Johnson minutes coming at the right time?
The Miami Heat had a game on Sunday that had been circled on at least a few people’s calendars for a while and that was on both sides of the equation. Of course, you may have had both fanbases, based on the former players from each team that had now switched sides, but you also had those players themselves.
While this may have been the case, the Miami Heat eventually got the most important stat of the day in a win, but that isn’t even the story here. The story here actually revolves around a Miami Heat player that helped them get a win. It was almost like you had seen a ghost when you saw him enter the game.
James Johnson entered the game pretty early on for what felt like the first set of significant minutes he’s played all season and he was excellent, relative to what he gave and for how long he was on the floor. In 22 minutes of playing time, he went for 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
While his minutes and production were definitely needed today, with Jimmy Butler being out with what was described as a “locked back” and with Justise Winslow still out although being upgraded to questionable from just out earlier on Sunday, they will also be needed moving forward. As the headline implies, adding James Johnson back to the rotation couldn’t have come at a better time.
With Jimmy Butler seeming to be worn down and fatigued at times this season from having to do too much or at least attempting to do it all, a player like James Johnson can really help. He can take some of the pressure off of him as a defender along the wings, as a finisher in transition, and even as a facilitator if need be.
When thinking about the overall defensive impact and rebounding aspect, James Johnson can also help there, as indicated by his stat line and showing on Sunday. These are also definite areas that the Miami Heat need to tidy up on based on the last few games.
Lastly, with Justise Winslow looking like he’s headed back into the mix, what better time than now to give yourself a boost from within. You can do this by not only adding one more big versatile ballhandler/wing/forward back into the mix with Justise, but by adding two back into the regular swing of things with James Johnson.
Johnson was stellar on Sunday and we needed everything that he did. He helped to set a tone, no matter how lopsided the final score appeared to be. These though, have been the reasons why James Johnson’s re-emergence in the rotation couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.