About two weeks ago, Amir Johnson played for the Delaware Blue Coats, the Philadelphia 76ers’ G-League affiliate. Johnson had came to the Sixers asking to play for the Blue Coats because he wanted to get some run in because at the time he hadn’t played since Jan. 26.
But on Tuesday, Johnson, who has averaged a career-low 9.5 minutes per game this season, started for the Sixers in a game they ended up winning, 114-106.
The start against the Orlando Magic marked Johnson’s third of the season, and with Joel Embiid, Boban Marjanovic and Jonah Bolden out, Johnson was called upon to be the big man for the Sixers’ offense. He tied his season-high of 13 points and grabbed five rebounds.
To put Johnson’s performance in perspective, this was just the fourth time he’s scored 13 points or more since joining the Sixers prior to the beginning of last season.
Johnson hit one of his three 3-point attempts, but worked primarily inside. He also played well on the break.
On the defensive end, Johnson also helped maintain the Sixers’ interior defense. All-Star Magic big man Nikola Vucevic was held to12 points and shot 5-of-15 from the field.
Johnson has been out of the Sixers’ rotation recently, but his ability to come in and contribute should be valued. With the end of the regular season near, the Sixers are trying to get Embiid, Marjanovic and Bolden healthy for the playoffs. Embiid, who has been out six straight games with knee tendinitis, is expected to return sometime soon.
But with Johnson showing out against the Magic, he’s given Brett Brown some hope that he can come in and produce while a player is out. If he’s able to be reliable, the Sixers may have some valuable depth at the center position.