EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Joe Johnson recognizes that the playoffs raise the intensity on everything, including pain. The injury to his left heel worsened during Game 2 on Monday, meaning it will be a headache for the Nets in Game 3 Thursday night.
"I'm a little sore, but I'm going to be able to give them what I've got," he said Wednesday, before a practice in which he did not participate.
Johnson missed four games during the regular season with what was then described as a sore heel, but he said that he aggravated it during the first quarter of the 90-82 loss, and now it is officially considered plantar fasciitis.
That is the condition du jour of this series, what with the Bulls' Joakim Noah trying to overcome it, too. He battled the pain well enough to make important plays and lift his team to the Game 2 win. Afterward, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of his center, "He's giving us all he has."
"It's a little different for me and Noah," Johnson said. "I'm chasing guys off screens and penetrating, cutting. And he's a big man, so it's different."
Any limitation on the guard as the series moves to Chicago could be a problem for the Nets, whose poor shooting (35.4 percent) cost them on Monday. Johnson did seem to get loose late, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets made a run.
"It's part of it, man," Johnson said. "You're going to have good stretches and bad stretches in a game. For me, at the 2-guard position, the shooting guard, I have to keep shooting regardless of how many I've made and how many I've missed. It's just kind of my mentality going into the game."
Who knows, though, how many shots his foot will allow him to take Thursday night?
At least the Nets, like the Bulls, are deep and resilient. One of their best games of the season was a win in Indiana when Deron Williams sat out with an injury. "It just comes over time," said Keith Bogans, who might have to take more three-point shots Thursday. "You spend the whole year together, you make adjustments. Guys get hurt. When Joe was out, Gerald [Wallace] was out, I think guys did a good job of filling in."
P.J. Carlesimo, who put his arm around Johnson and chatted with him at midcourt before the team began practicing Wednesday, said it is unlikely that any one Net can replicate what Johnson does. "We've had that all year. Other guys collectively have got to do it," the coach said.
Still, Johnson is on the team because of his unique skills, especially in clutch situations. For him, the worst ache is the frustration. He seemed to have benefited from rest after the Nets clinched home-court advantage, only to have the injury flare up.
"This is what we played the regular season for, and we fought so hard to get to this point. To have a little nagging injury like this, man, it's tough. But it's part of it," Johnson said. "It lingered here and there. I've had my good days and my bad days. It's just something that needs rest, and I don't have time for it right now."