Johnson looks to make most of opportunities

Johnson looks to make most of opportunities
April 1, 2014, 2:45 pm
Share This Post

WASHINGTON — For Chris Johnson, this season -- scratch that -- his entire NBA career has been all about him making the most of his opportunities to play.

Depending on the severity of Avery Bradley's Achilles injury, Johnson may very well find himself playing an even more prominent role for the Celtics to close out this season.

Bradley was unable to play in the second half of Boston's 94-80 loss to Chicago on Monday because of what he described as tendinitis in his Achilles.

"It just comes from not playing for a long period and coming back full speed," said Bradley, who earlier this season had a stretch in which he missed 19 out of 22 games due to a right ankle sprain.

Bradley added that the Achilles had been bothering him prior to Monday's game, "but I've been playing through it, just getting treatment. (Monday night) it got the best of me."

By no means does Johnson wish ill upon any of his teammates, but he knows that Bradley's status may very well create another opportunity - there's that word again - for him to continue establishing himself not only with the Celtics but also as an NBA player.

After back-to-back 10-day contracts with Boston, the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $3.27 million contract although each of the last three years are non-guaranteed.

So Johnson knows there's no time to relax and get comfortable with his status.

"It doesn't change the way I play," Johnson told CSNNE.com, regarding his contract. "I'm still going to go out, work hard, bring energy and do whatever I can to help us win games."

Those are the qualities that have made him a player that head coach Brad Stevens has shown no hesitation to throw into the game in the most critical moments.

In fact, Johnson has played more in the fourth quarter (41 minutes, 28 seconds) of Boston's last four games, than the team's leading scorer Jeff Green who has logged just 15 minutes, 21 seconds over the same period of time.

You don't have to convince Stevens that having Johnson on the roster has been a plus for Boston this season.

"Chris makes us better; there's no question about it," Stevens said recently. "He's a really solid basketball player."

Look no further than his numbers this season.

In 32 games this season, he has averaged 6.2 points while shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent on threes.

Johnson's numbers are similar since Bradley's most recent return from an injury nine games ago.

In the last nine games, Johnson has averaged 5.8 points while shooting an identical 41.5 percent from the field. However, his three-point shooting in this span has taken a noticeable dip, to 22.7 percent.

While the three-point shot is a big part of what he brings to the Celtics, making high-energy, hustle plays is what has really allowed Stevens to keep Johnson in the regular rotation.

"I know what I'm out there for," Johnson said. "I know the best way I can help this team is to just keep playing hard, making hustle plays, getting the 50/50 balls, that kind of stuff."