BOSTON – For as long as Amir Johnson has been in the NBA, he’s always been a glass-is-half-full kind of guy.
During the Celtics’ most recent four-game losing streak, Johnson acknowledged the team’s problems but consistently showed unshakable confidence that this team would find its way back on the path of success.
Consider Wednesday’s 103-94 win over Indiana a first step towards making what’s surely an uphill climb in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ll be fine,” Johnson told me. “We let a few get away that we shouldn’t. But we got time. We’ll be fine.”
No, that wasn’t after Wednesday night’s game.
Those comments came following Tuesday night’s loss in New York, a game in which Johnson’s defense -- the entire Celtics’ defense, for that matter -- struggled to contain New York’s hot shooting both from the perimeter as well as around the basket.
But Johnson is embracing the reality that for this team to achieve many of the goals they have set for themselves this season, he must become more of an impact player when it comes to making effort plays.
Johnson was all that and then some on Wednesday, tallying his fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and a season-high 18 rebounds.
He also managed to dish out a career high-tying six assists.
While the numbers were certainly eye-popping, Johnson has actually been one of the team’s more consistent big men this season.
“He’s really come on big time and we needed him to,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “It was good to see him play like that. He made huge plays in big moments.”
With Boston trailing 86-84 in the fourth, Johnson got great position in the post and scored on a turnaround hook to tie the game at 86.
He made one of two free throws that cut Indiana’s lead in half (90-89) with 3:33 to play.
And it was Johnson who had the second of three straight steals and subsequent lay-ups or dunks for Boston that contributed to them ending the game on a 12-0 run.
While it was one of Johnson’s best games as a Celtic, his focus all night was doing his part to help end the team’s losing streak.
“The main thing is, we were just hungry for a win,” Johnson said. “We definitely wanted to get this game tonight. I said it out there, we definitely owe it to our fans.”
Win or lose, Johnson remains optimistic about the Celtics.
“I don’t know if it’s because of his experience or his personality,” Stevens said. “He’s just a really positive, uplifting person and so being on a losing streak doesn’t seem to get him too down.”
Following the Knicks loss on Tuesday, Johnson refused to dwell on the losing streak.
Instead, his focus was on snapping it against the Pacers.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We just have to keep playing and figure out if we can put a 48-minute game together.”
And with that he walked away, grinning, “We’ll be fine, man. We’ll be fine."