Amir Johnson has become the Celtics' best big man
When Amir Johnson and David Lee were acquired this past off-season, Celtics fans were hopeful that they could fill some necessary voids in Boston's frontcourt.
While Lee has been a disappointment thus far, Johnson has arguably been the most solid big man for the C's this year.
He's certainly been their best rim protector, leading the team with 1.2 blocked shots per game.
His 8.4 points per game is third best among Celtics' bigs behind Jared Sullinger (9.7) and Kelly Olynyk (9.4) but he's shooting 58.7% compared to Sully and Kelly's 42.6% and 45.1% respectively. One could argue that Sullinger has been the best rebounder for the green, but that hasn't been the case over the last couple weeks.
Late last month, Amir was slowed down by a foot injury. He missed a couple games against the Timberwolves and Hornets on December 21st and 23rd and it took him a few games to get back up to speed.
The foot doesn't seem to be bothering him now, because what he's been able to do over the last two weeks has solidified his spot in the rotation.
In the last six contests Johnson has averaged almost a double-double, putting up 13.2 points and nine rebounds.
In Wednesday night's win against the Pacers, he posted an incredible stat line of 14 points, 18 rebounds (season-high), six assists (season-high), and two steals. One of those two takeaways was part of the Celtics' miraculous steal parade that sealed their victory.
His 18 rebounds tied him for the fifth most in a game by a Celtic since 2001. It was the second highest total this season behind Sullinger's 20 against the Pelicans on December 7th. Sully also grabbed 20 boards against Toronto in January of 2014.
The last Celtic to record exactly 18 rebounds in a game was Vitor Faverani in the second game of the 2013-2014 season. That's not really important but I just couldn't resist that name drop:
Throw in 14 points and 6 assists for Amir Johnson in with all these rebounds.... pic.twitter.com/hWmxoBUD4T— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) January 14, 2016
Amir's improved play as of late has led to a decrease in minutes for both Sullinger and Olynyk, making it clear that Brad Stevens is relying on him to control the paint.
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Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo via Concord Monitor