Tyler John­son has teeth ... in his game

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NBA - By Ira Win­der­man Staff writer

PHILADEL­PHIA — The ques­tion for the Mi­ami Heat af­ter their Game 1 loss to the Philadel­phia 76ers was whether they had enough teeth to their game.

It is a ques­tion Tyler John­son has been deal­ing with for months, but es­pe­cially these past few weeks, since the start­ing shoot­ing guard lost a lower tooth in a game against the At­lanta Hawks amid his sec­ond sea­son of play­ing with a miss­ing up­per tooth.

So why get back on the na­tional spot­light of the NBA play­offs with such a min­i­mal­is­tic den­tal ap­proach?

Be­cause it ap­par­ently is fine by his fi­ancée.

“She likes it this way, be­cause I’m less at­trac­tive,” he quipped amid the Heat’s play­off prepa­ra­tions at Tem­ple Univer­sity.

The den­tal dis­tress is noth­ing new, John­son with a pen­chant for los­ing teeth dat­ing to his col­le­giate days.

“I lost the ma­jor­ity of them in a prac­tice,” he said re­cently. “I think I lost like six in prac­tice. From there, I’ve prob­a­bly lost in a game like four, some­thing like that.”

But this is the first ex­tended pe­riod in his three sea­sons with the Heat that he has had ven­ti­lated up­per and lower bridges.

“We don’t know what to do with him,” coach Erik Spoel­stra quipped af­ter re­cent den­tal dis­as­ters for John­son and fel­low back­court part­ner Go­ran Dragic. “Go­ran had his teeth fall out last week, again, and like a re­spon­si­ble pro­fes­sional, he went the next day to get it taken care of. I told him he is not al­lowed to get it taken care of un­less he takes Tyler with him.

“Tyler takes great pride in how he looks right now. So, to each his own.”

John­son’s thought is that he is not done with his hard knocks for the sea­son.

“I mean, I’d pre­fer to have all my teeth,” he said. “I think it’s just a mat­ter of do­ing it at the time when they prob­a­bly won’t get knocked out again.

“Em­brace it, just em­brace it. It’s go­ing to hap­pen again. I don’t know, maybe this sum­mer I’ll get ’em fixed. But right now, there’s not a whole lot we can do. Be­cause they’ll have to do a lit­tle bit of drilling and all that and I don’t want to be think­ing about that right now.”

As for the why-me stage, he said that should be ap­par­ent to all by now.

“You see how I play,” he said. “So it’s not re­ally like a sur­prise like that.”

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