Championship first, legacy second for Johnson

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Championship first, legacy second for Johnson

ATLANTA Joe Johnson's game has always spoke louder than the man, prompting some to wonder if he has the chops to lead a team deep into the playoffs.

The former Celtic understands that his play will go far in dictating whether the Atlanta Hawks can move past the Boston Celtics and into the next round of the playoffs.

For Johnson, every playoff win brings him closer to the reality that at some point, all the pull-up jumpers, the cross-over dribbles, the 3-pointers, it'll all be nothing but a memory.

He'll be 31 in June, making him old enough to at least contemplate his basketball legacy while still young enough to add to it.

Johnson said he hasn't given any thought to how he'll be viewed once his career is over.

"My main goal and the main thing I want to do now, is try and help bring a championship to Atlanta," he said.

For most basketball purists, the idea sounds just plain crazy.

This is Atlanta after all, a place where the road teams often feel at home with a crowd that on many nights, spends more time cheering for them than the home team.

Johnson's goal, while extremely difficult to fathom, isn't as off the mark as it might seem.

If the Hawks manage to get past Boston, they'll most likely face a Chicago Bulls team that will be without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the closing moments of the Bulls' Game 1 win over Philadelphia.

For Atlanta to have such thoughts would be looking past the C's, something they have gone out of their way to avoid all weekend.

"You have to respect that team for who they are, and all that they've done," Atlanta's Josh Smith told CSNNE.com. "They've been where we want to get to, and that's win a championship."

The Hawks (then in St. Louis) haven't brought home a title since 1958 which they defeated the Celtics after Boston beat them for the C's first NBA title in 1957.

Since moving to Atlanta in 1968, the Hawks have never even been to the NBA Finals let alone winning it all.

"This city is well overdue," Johnson said.

The Hawks took a step towards that goal with an 83-74 Game 1 win over Boston on Sunday, a game in which Johnson only scored 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting which included him missing all nine of his 3-point attempts.

While it wasn't his best effort, Johnson's presence often creates scoring opportunities for his teammates which in essence, is what great players are supposed to do.

"He's one of the better one-on-one players in the league," Pierce said of Johnson. "He's right up there with (Oklahoma City's) Kevin Durant and Carmelo (Anthony of the New York Knicks)."

Like those players, Johnson is also seeking that first elusive championship - a pipe dream in the eyes of many when talking about the Atlanta Hawks.

Johnson doesn't mind.

All he knows is that the Hawks have the deepest bench they've had since he's been here, a much-improved point guard in Jeff Teague, and a maturing running mate for him in Smith who had 22 points and 18 rebounds in Sunday's win.

Slowly but surely, he's starting to see an Atlanta franchise putting together the kind of pieces that can do more than just get to the playoffs and win a series or two.

And if they were to do the seemingly impossible and break the 64-year title drought, it would indeed provide a sizable brick towards building a case for him as one of the NBA's better players once he's done playing.

"A championship would solidify a lot," Johnson said. "Would I be satisfied? No. But it would be a goal of mine."

Brown fires up Celtics teammates with tomahawk dunk over Vucevic

Brown fires up Celtics teammates with tomahawk dunk over Vucevic

Well it appears that Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic wasn’t the only one who didn’t see Jaylen Brown’s powerful dunk over him coming. 
 
Apparently, Brown didn’t see it coming either. 
 
“It caught me off-guard,” Brown said after Boston’s 117-87 thumping of the Magic. “I wasn’t even expecting it. It happens. It’s part of basketball. It’s two points.”
 
The play in question came early in the second quarter when Brown blew past Jodie Meeks into the lane and took off towards the rim. 
 
Vucevic jumped late, got dunked on and the Celtics bench went bananas!
 
“It gave our team a lot of energy,” Brown acknowledged.
 
Brown understands part of his job in coming off the bench is to make an impact with effort. 
 
And in doing so, he senses that his teammate’s confidence him in and his game can only grow.
 
“I feel like my teammates are trusting me more, getting more trust from the coaching staff,” said Brown who finished with 13 points. 
 
Avery Bradley likes what he’s seen from Brown, a young player who has shown tremendous promise. 
 
And that dunk over Vucevic?
 
“You’re going to see a lot more of those in his career,” Bradley said. “He gets us going.”