This NBA season was noticeably shorter than usual due to the lockout, but nonetheless, we are headed towards the NBA Playoffs. Another postseason filled with buzzer-beaters and upsets, only difference is you can redeem yourself after a loss in the NBA. This year, there are eight former Cats on seven different teams, which gives each of them a good chance to hold the hardware in June. Basketball is a team sport, but each of these players plays an impact role, so we will evaluate their individual skills and how far their team has a chance to go.
Jodie Meeks (SG/8-Philadelphia/vs. Chicago):As the eighth and final seed to clinch a spot late in the season, the Sixers are at least in the playoffs. Are they in contention for the Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals? No, sorry but the Bulls are taking this series, with or without Derrick Rose. Meeks will still score, but expect Evan Turner to get more touches, especially if Rose isn’t playing. Prediction: out in first round.
Josh Harrellson (PF/7-New York/vs. Miami): This is almost the same case as the aforementioned one with the Sixers. The Knicks have had a tumultuous season, Carmelo and Amare both being out for a portion of the season, Linsanity, and the resignation of Mark D’Antoni as coach. The Heat have been up-and-down recently as well, as the Knicks have given them fits in the past, but the Heat will take this series. Last night was a great night for Jorts, as he finished with an impressive 18 points and nine rebounds. If he is able to play close to that in the playoffs, and the Knicks can resolve their chemistry issues, they could give the Heat a run for their money. Until then, the Heat will take this series. Prediction: out in first round.
DeAndre Liggins & Daniel Orton (PG,C/6-Orlando/vs. Indiana): This combo of former UK teammates have found somewhat of an abundance of playing time, at least compared to earlier this season. With the loss of Dwight Howard, Orton has been able to find considerable time behind Glen Davis. Liggins has also found minutes himself. But again, the Magic are without Dwight Howard, which makes it hard for them to win. They can win, but it will take a gargantuan team effort against the Pacers, who have been on a roll. Prediction: out in first round.
Rajon Rondo (PG/4-Boston/vs. Atlanta): Rondo has completed yet another impressive regular season, and now that the Big Three are no longer what they were in Boston, Rondo has now graduated from role player to star player. He has carried the Celtics on his back into the playoffs, and with the numbers he puts up, there is no reason to believe that the Celtics can’t move on to the second round. After that, however, they face a Bulls team that has become consistent without Derrick Rose, unlike last season. It will make for an entertaining series, but I don’t see the eltics beating the Bulls. Sorry, Rajon. Prediction: Eastern Conference semifinals.
Enes Kanter (C/8-Utah/vs. San Antonio): Kanter decided to end the season with his best game of the season, 12 points and 10 rebounds, finally being able to show his potential. The Jazz are in the playoffs, but find themselves as an eight seed against the Spurs. As much as I dislike the Spurs, the veterans on this team know how to win and they won’t be stopped in the first round or in the semifinals. Prediction: out in first round.
Nazr Mohammed (C/2-Oklahoma City/vs. Dallas): Out of the former Cats in the NBA, NAzr holds the best advantage. He plays on the team that I believe has the best chance of winning the championship, and he also plays some of the fewest minutes compared to the others, due to his age. No offense to Nazr, however. He knows how to get the job done. Whether it was at San Antonio with Kentucky, or at San Antonio with the Spurs, he knows how to win. And after the Thunder beat the pesky Mavs and whoever they face after, he will win yet again in San Antonio–against the Spurs this time. Prediction: NBA Finals.
Eric Bledsoe (PG/5-Los Angeles Clippers/vs. Memphis): As good as the Clippers have been, I see them having a hard time against the Grizzlies. It is definitely a series that could go to seven games, but the Clippers will prevail. They will also struggle against the Spurs, but the experience factor, something that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin lack, will cause them to lose this series. Eric Bledsoe should see limited time behind Mo Williams and Chris Paul. Prediction: Western Conference semifinals.