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Jayhawks in the Playoffs guide
Congratulations. You survived the 82-game NBA regular season.
Well, even if you didn't, personally, six former Kansas University basketball players did. (Actually, if you want to get technical about it, one of those KU products was a free agent until February. But, hey, now he's in the playoffs.)
It's all right if you weren't checking the box scores every day or watching game highlights every morning on YouTube. Even if you paid absolutely no attention to the NBA from the last week of October to right now, it shouldn't be too difficult to get caught up with the playoff-bound former Jayhawks in our guide to the postseason.
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7 Charlotte
Season stats: 9.8 points | 2.9 rebounds | 4.9 assists | 45.4% FGs | 38.5% 3-pointers
You might want to sit down for this. As hard as it is to believe, the following statement is true. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat — you know, the team that has LeBron James — swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the regular season. Shocking, I know.
Interestingly enough, though, Miami only beat Charlotte by a point back on Dec. 1. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points and dished six assists in that one, and he averaged 8.3 points, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block against the Bobcats in the three games he played against them this season.
Chalmers only made 37.5% of his shots — almost a full eight points below his season field goal percentage of 45.5% — against Charlotte. But he found other ways to disrupt the Bobcats' defense.
As the good folks at stats.nba.com broke it down for us, Chalmers asserted himself on offense, looking to drive almost any time Charlotte's Kemba Walker tried to guard him: 13 drives in nearly 16 minutes of matching up with Walker. The former KU star drove past Ramon Sessions a few times, too — four drives in 5:16.
Of course, Chalmers is known more for his defense, and Walker (three drives in 12:06) and Sessions (one drive in 5:07) didn't have nearly as much success attacking him off the bounce.
This series, which figures to be a short one, begins Sunday at Miami.
No. 3 Toronto vs. No. 6 Brooklyn
Season stats: 13.5 points | 4.6 rebounds | 2.4 assists | 45.1% FGs | 37.3% 3-pointers
The NBA Playoffs are nothing new for Paul Pierce, who has played in 136 games in 10 postseason appearances.
Pierce, who averages 20.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his postseason career, helped Boston qualify for the playoffs each of the previous six seasons — including a 26-game run to an NBA championship in 2008, when he was named NBA Finals MVP.
This spring, in his 16th NBA season, he'll try to bring that experience to a Brooklyn team that underperformed in November and December, but went 34-17 from January on.
Pierce played well against the Raptors this season, as the Nets split the season series, 2-2. The veteran small forward averaged 19.8 points a game against Toronto — more than he did against any team in the league except Miami (21.3 ppg). Toronto didn't have an answer for "The Truth," who made 56.1% of his shots in four meetings, while adding 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
He scored his season-high, 33 points, against the Raptors in a one-point Nets home loss on Jan. 27.
Defensively, don't be surprised if Nets coach Jason Kidd opts to use Pierce's size to defend Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry occasionally. In limited time defending Lowry, Pierce held him to 2-of-7 shooting, while Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston had issues bottling up Lowry, Toronto's second-leading scorer (17.9 points a game).
This first-round series, which could go the full seven games, begins early Saturday afternoon.
No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 5 Washington
Season stats: 9.1 points | 2.6 rebounds | 3.9 assists | 39.13% FGs | 35.1% 3-pointers
Season stats: 8.3 points | 5.2 rebounds | 53.1% FGs | 41.2% 3-pointers [22 games]
Of the eight first-round playoffs series, this is the only one in which two former Jayhawks will go head-to-head.
Hinrich and Gooden helped lead Kansas to a Final Four in 2002, and now they'll try to knock each other out of the postseason as role players.
The Bulls and Wizards only faced each other three times this season, and Washington won twice. However, the Wizards' second victory, a three-point win on Jan. 17, came right around the time Chicago began turning into one of the better teams in The Association. The Bulls are 25-12 since February, and beat Washington, 96-78, in D.C. just two weeks ago.
Hinrich, seen above flashing some wizardry of his own, averaged 12.3 points, 6.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds against Washington this season.
He'll spend a lot of this series matched up with one of the most entertaining and athletic young guards in the league, John Wall.
The 11th-year KU product held his own against Wall this season. Hinrich made 54% of his shots when guarded by Wall, while the budding D.C. superstar only converted 35% of his attempts against Hinrich.
Gooden could be the ultimate X-factor in this series. Because Washington picked him up as a free agent late in the season, the bearded power forward only played against Chicago once.
Earlier this month, the backup big man scored four points on 2-for-5 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 22 minutes in Washington's home loss to the Bulls.
However, that's the only time in eight April games in which Gooden played more than 20 minutes. In fact, Washington coach Randy Wittman didn't play Gooden at all in two of the past four games.
By no coincidence, that drop-off in playing time coincided with the return of power forward Nene to D.C.'s lineup. But if Wittman wants to throw Chicago a curve ball, Gooden would gladly oblige and provide points and boards off the bench.
No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 7 Memphis
Season stats: 4.2 points | 3.6 rebounds | 1.3 assists | 55.6% FGs | 16.7 minutes
The Thunder won the season series with Memphis, 3-1, but backup power forward Nick Collison didn't have a lot to do with OKC's success.
Limited to 15.3 minutes a game versus the Grizzlies, Collison hit 43% of his shots and only scored 2.5 points a game, but chipped in with 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block.
Still, expect Collison to contribute off the bench. In-depth statistics show he is one member of the Thunder's front court who is able to limit hefty Zach Randolph's productivity on the offensive glass.
The series begins Saturday night at Oklahoma City.
No. 4 Houston vs. No. 7 Portland
Season stats: 4.8 points | 4.4 rebounds | 48.1% FGs | 12.5 minutes
Houston beat Portland three out of four times in the regular season, but you couldn't blame Thomas Robinson for the Trail Blazers' struggles.
The second-year power forward barely got on the floor against his former team this season. A Portland reserve, Robinson averaged single-digit minutes against six teams this season, and Houston was one of them. The athletic 6-10 backup logged just 9.5 minutes versus the Rockets, scoring 2.3 points on 2-for-8 total shooting, while averaging 2.5 rebounds in limited action.
The two teams haven't met since March 9, and Robinson's minutes have been right at 14.3 a game in March and April, so he very well could play a bigger role in the playoffs after going scoreless in 11 minutes in a 118-113 Portland loss at Houston more than five weeks ago.
But that will be up to Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, and will be based upon how he thinks Robinson matches up with Rockets big men Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and Omer Asik.
Even if Stotts tightens his rotation for the postseason, Robinson should be a part of the game plan off the bench.
A highly anticipated series, this one begins Sunday night in Houston.
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