Cam Johnson is on the brink of a return, barring a setback.

This is as healthy as the Nets have been since opening night, but they are set to get even healthier.

“Yeah, it looks like he’s on track to play [Wednesday], which is good,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said before a 118-110 loss to the Celtics on Tuesday night.

Johnson missed his fourth straight game with a left adductor strain.

The injury had initially been listed as tightness but later clarified.

What is unclear is how Johnson fits into the lineup upon his return.

The obvious positional competition is at power forward with Dorian Finney-Smith, though Finney-Smith provided more rebounding and defense.

Vaughn also could relegate Cam Thomas to a sixth-man role to provide punch off the bench, but Thomas is their second-leading scorer at 21.4 points per game.

Johnson, who could suit up in the return leg Wednesday night in Boston, is averaging 13.9 points on 45.8 percent shooting, including 40.1 from 3-point range.

“I always like to play,” Johnson said. “Just getting back up to speed — not that I was out for too long anyway — but just getting up and down and playing a little bit, … shooting out of different actions and defending certain things and just doing the principles that we want to do.”

He had been on a streak of good form before getting hurt against Golden State, averaging 15.3 points on 51.2/42.3/100.0 shooting splits in his previous four games.


Vaughn said Ben Simmons won’t play Wednesday, which wasn’t unexpected. Simmons told reporters his sitting out is purely precautionary, with the Nets on a back-to-back, but that he’s improving physically.

“Definitely,” said Simmons. “Definitely. I’m getting there. Just ups and downs each day, but staying on the path.”


Brooklyn was without rookie first-round pick Dariq Whitehead, out with a left shin stress reaction.

But backup center Day’Ron Sharpe returned from a hyperextended knee, meaning Johnson and Whitehead were the only two players out, replicating their available roster in the regular-season opener. Sharpe scored six points and had four rebounds.


Boston big man Kristaps Porzingis was out with a lower-back contusion after having been listed as questionable.

Veteran Al Horford started in his place, scoring 16.

They were also without newly acquired Xavier Tillman.


Vaughn cited both rebounding and failing to get back on transition defense as two weaknesses that cost Brooklyn in its earlier meetings with the Celtics, and as points of emphasis in this back-to-back against the league leaders.

They held their own on the boards, as Boston had a 39-37 rebounding edge. The Celtics outscored the Nets 14-8 in transition.


Clara Wu Tsai, the wife of Nets owner Joe Tsai, was presented with the Dreamer Award on Tuesday night during the first-quarter break from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family members Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King.

The Dreamer Award is presented annually to individuals whose contributions create a more just and equitable world and embody King’s vision of service to others

During the award presentation, the King Family and Wu Tsai — the vice chair of Nets parent company BSE Global — urged people to participate in local service opportunities as part of the King Family’s Realizing the Dream initiative.

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