UK in the NBA playoffs: Former Cats in first round action


The Los Angeles Clippers’ Caron Butler collides with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol (33) on a pick set for Memphis’ Tayshaun Prince (21) in Game 1 of the first round NBA Playoffs matchup at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday, April 20, 2013. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)


By Brett Bibbins | @BBibbins_Kernel

[email protected]

The 2013 NBA Playoffs are in full swing, and the rosters of playoff teams are riddled with former UK players.

A total of nine former Cats have made it to the NBA postseason this year, one more than last year’s total of eight in the playoffs. The nine players span over eight teams this year, making it an even 50 percent chance of a former Cat winning an NBA title in 2013.

The Western Conference has a total of five former UK players in this season’s matchups. The series between the top seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and the No. 8 Houston Rockets pits former Cat teammates up against each other, in DeAndre Liggins and Terrence Jones.

For the Thunder, Liggins has played in all four playoff games, averaging seven minutes, 1.5 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game. For the Rockets, Jones has played in two of the four playoff games.

Jones is averaging 17.5 minutes, four points, 7.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.5 blocks in those two games. Oklahoma City lead the series 3-1 over Houston.

In the four seed vs. five seed matchup, two more former Cats meet head-to-head, as the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers take on the No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies.

For the Clippers, Eric Bledsoe has been providing guard play off the bench, behind MVP candidate Chris Paul. Bledsoe is averaging eight points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks in 17.3 minutes per playoff game.

As for the Grizzlies, Tayshaun Prince has started every game of the playoffs, scoring 6.3 points, pulling down 4.3 rebounds, dishing out 1.8 assists and getting 0.75 steals per game. The Clippers and Grizzlies are tied 2-2 in the series.

The final former UK player to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, Jodie Meeks of the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers, went up against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Meeks was only able to play in one game before spraining his left ankle, keeping him out for the rest of the series as injury laden Lakers were swept by the Spurs, 4-0.

Meeks played 20 minutes, scored four points, grabbed two rebounds and had one steal in his only playoff game

The Eastern Conference playoffs have four former UK players competing for a shot at an NBA title this season. Three of the four are playing in the series between the No. 4 Brooklyn Nets and the No, 5 Chicago Bulls.

For the Nets, Keith Bogans has played in two of the five games of the series, averaging 11.5 minutes per game in his two appearances, totaling two rebounds and two assists.

As for the Bulls, Nazr Mohammed has played a large role in the playoffs, as starting center Joakim Noah has been hindered by plantar fasciitis. Mohammed has averaged 5.6 points, four rebounds, 0.8 assists and just over one block in almost 15 minutes per game.

Also for the Bulls, Marquis Teague has played just over four minutes total over two games. Teague has scored two points total in the series. Through five games, Chicago leads Brooklyn, 3-2.

The final former Cat in the playoffs won’t check into a single playoff game regardless of how far his team advances.

Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics tore his ACL earlier in the season, but has been on the sidelines for every playoff game.

The Celtics are behind their series to the New York Knicks, 3-1. In the regular season, Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 11.1 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.84 steals per game.

The first round of the NBA Playoffs continue Tuesday as the Golden State Warriors play at the Denver Nuggets in game five of their series at 8 p.m. on TNT. The Los Angeles Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies in game five of their series at 10:30 p.m. on TNT.