Johnson is grinning. And why not? The Raptors might be the NBA's surprise this season, not that others, like Phoenix or Portland, haven't exceeded expectations. But some say with a straight face that Toronto has become a team that could reach the conference finals. This might be hyperbole, paying little attention to the idea that many of the Raptors' wins have come against the dreck of the East, though it is no less confounding to many that had forecast another rebuilding season in Canada.
During the playoffs -- Toronto's first visit to the postseason since Chris Bosh still paid a provincial income tax -- Johnson has continued to excel via the things unquantifiable by traditional measures. Late in Game 4, with the Raptors up four, Paul Pierce drove left around Patrick Patterson and toward the hoop. Johnson left Kevin Garnett on the block, planted in the lane and allowed himself to be bowled over. After the charge, Brooklyn never again threatened for the night.
"For me, the playoffs is all about defense," he says. "Guys can score the ball, but it's what you do on that defensive end that matters."
If his ankle stays intact, Johnson should shine by the most simple metric there is. He will help the Raptors score more points and he will help the Raptors give up fewer. Spreadsheets around the world will swell, and Johnson won't hear a word about it.
Let him know on Twitter.