Joe Johnson would love to be Dwyane Wade's sidekick

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Thumbnail image for johnson_game.jpgJoe Johnson did not overwhelm in the playoffs — Atlanta relied too much on “iso-Joe” offense and not on ball or player movement. That allowed the Buck to stay close and the Magic to just blow them out.

The conventional wisdom now is that the Hawks are going to let Johnson walk. He’s savvy enough to know that is likely, and that part of his role now is to say good things about any place that will pay him big bank.

Like Miami. Johnson told the Miami Herald all the right things about playing next to Dwyane Wade.

“That’s a great situation — you have to look at it,” Johnson told The Miami Herald while discussing his options. “I’m not saying I’ll go play with him or him. But being a free agent, you pay attention to everybody’s salary cap, what everybody can do.”

He played a supportive role in Phoenix alongside Steve Nash and Stoudemire before going to Atlanta. Asked if he could be a second or third option on a team such as Miami, he said, “Yeah.”

“I played that role already,” said Johnson, expected to also receive interest from Chicago, New York and New Jersey. “It doesn’t matter. You can still make your stamp on the game. I could care less about being the one or two guy. I just want to win.”

Right now every free agent says it’s about winning. Then the offers will roll in and things change.

How big and how long an offer Johnson will get is going to be interesting. He has not played like a max player, but he is still capable of being a good number two (maybe in the $12 mill a year range). He also will turn 29 next season, meaning he should be near his peak, but will anybody give him a five-year deal? There would be a lot of risk for a team the last couple years of that deal, and teams can be risk averse.

But in Miami, it’s about now, not four or five years from now.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.