Today is the first day of the NBA playoffs and we’ll see a few former Wildcats in action. Let’s take a look at which of them has the best chance to make it to the second round of play.
Philadelphia vs. Chicago: Jodie Meeks
Evan Turner caused something of a controversy when he said that the Sixers would prefer to play the Chicago Bulls to the Miami Heat because they provided a better match up. While this statement seems innocuous, the Chicago media played it up big time in interviews with Derrick Rose and company. Turner will have the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is in the first game of the NBA playoffs today. Turner replaced Jodie Meeks in the starting line up half way through the season, but Meeks will still have his opportunity against the Bulls. He’s coming into the playoffs averaging 21 points per game in the last two contests of the regular season. While Chicago is the better team, it’s still a mystery as to which Derrick Rose and supporting class will show up. If the Bulls stumble early, the Sixers may be able to capitalize and see themselves to the second round. I kind of doubt it though.
Orlando vs. Indiana: DeAndre Liggins and Daniel Orton
The loss of Dwight Howard essentially signaled the end of the season for the Orlando Magic. While Orton has played well in a couple games and DeAndre Liggins took advantage of some playing time in the last game of the regular season, neither former Cat should make enough of an impact to save this hopeless case. It’s just depressing watching the Magic play now.
New York vs. Miami: Josh Harrellson
In what should be the marquee matchup of the first round, the Knicks need to find a way to beat a Heat team that they lost to three times in the regular season. Josh Harrellson didn’t play in any of those games against Miami, due to his injury, so he’s a prime candidate to emerge as the go-to guy off the bench. That’s a scenario we can all see, right? Carmelo Anthony giving Josh Harrellson the big shots against the Miami Heat? Hopefully Jorts can snag some playing time and make some solid contributions in front of what will be a huge nationwide audience.
Oklahoma City vs. Dallas: Nazr Mohammed
Considering the condition that Nazr Mohammed arrived at Kentucky in, the fact that he is still contributing in the NBA is both baffling and awesome. Mohammed has the best chance of all the former Cats to make a serious run at the championship trophy. While he only plays spot minutes at center, Mohammed is an important part of the Thunder organization and a leader in their locker room. For him to get another ring at this stage in his career would be fantastic.
While Nazr seems to be the most likely candidate of this batch to forger his way into the second round, tomorrow presents more promising candidates in Rajon Rondo and Eric Bledsoe. It’ll take a few years, but I’d love to see a postseason dominated by former Kentucky players. We’ll have enough spread throughout the league, it’s just a matter of their teams improving around them.