Chris Johnson Solid In Celtics Debut
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BOSTON (CBS) – When Avery Bradley left Tuesday night’s loss to the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics found themselves in a bit of a pickle when it came to the shooting guard position.
With Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks in Golden State, Keith Bogans at home and Jerryd Bayless on the shelf with a bad toe, the Celtics were a bit undermanned at the two-guard spot.
Luckily, they signed Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract last Friday. Johnson made his Celtics debut on Tuesday night, and the D-Leaguer made the most of his opportunity in Miami.
Johnson played 25 energy-filled minutes for the Celtics against the Heat, scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with three rebounds, an assist and a steal in Boston’s 93-86 loss.
Playing for his NBA future, Johnson knocked down his first two shots from the floor, both corner threes. As the Celtics chipped away at an 18-point deficit in the second half, the 23-year-old was right in the middle of it — both on offense and defense.
Johnson finished a team-best plus-7 against Miami, playing some solid perimeter defense and disrupting Miami’s offense by getting his 6-6 frame into passing lanes. His lone steal came when he stepped in front of Ray Allen and intercepted a cross-court pass from LeBron James, sparking a Celtics’ fast break that ended with a Kris Humphries dunk and gave Boston an 86-84 lead with 3:08 left in the game.
The Celtics wouldn’t be able to hold that slim lead, but Johnson displayed the energy and hunger that Boston is looking for out of their young players the rest of the season.
For Johnson, who averaged 19.4 points for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League before signing with the Celtics, he was happy to step up when Brad Stevens sent him into action on Tuesday.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” he told reporters after the game. “Unfortunately Avery went down, but my name was called and I was ready to come in; make effort plays and try to do everything to help the team win.”
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“I’m not trying to do too much,” he said. “I’m just doing the little things to help the team try to win.”
Johnson, who played eight games with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, said a few of the Celtics veterans told him not to over-think things, and he took that advice onto the floor.
“With great guys like Rondo and leaders like Jeff Green, in practice they tell me if I had my open shot to knock them down and don’t hesitate,” he said. “That’s what I did.”
With Bradley likely out of Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, Johnson could find himself once again playing an important role for the Celtics. If he answers that call with some more strong play, he might find himself signing another 10-day contract, and potentially a deal for the rest of the season.
Tune in to Celtics-Wizards on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Celtics. Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 pm.