Heels in the Pros: Tar Heels in the NBA Playoffs


The 2015 NBA Playoffs are alive and well. We are not being disappointed with several tough match-ups in the opening round. One of the great things about the playoffs is watching former Tar Heel get their due as professional basketball players. Several players are representing UNC on their respective NBA teams; however, we will focus on the ones who are capable of shaping the outcome of their playoff series.

Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs) – There is a saying that goes, “Money is green and Green is money!” This refers to the Spurs’ starting shooting guard who was one of the most versatile players for UNC. During the regular season, Green averaged 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.1 rebounds while shooting 43.6% from the field and hitting 41.8% of his three-point field goals.

His numbers are down during the playoffs. Against the Los Angeles Clippers, Green averages 6.5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 0.3 blocks. His field goal percentage fell to 29% and his three-point field goal percentage decreased to 30.4%. On any other team, Green would be benched. However, Green’s record-breaking 2014 finals (most three-point field goals made) make him a threat at all times. When Green gets hot, he is money.

In addition, his defensive prowess is underrated. Green has the ability to guard four positions. Against the Clippers, he has guarded Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes and occasionally Blake Griffin. His versatility and lights-out shooting at Carolina carried over the NBA. With two games left in this series, the real Danny Green needs to stand up.

John Henson (Milwaukee Bucks) – Fear the deer has come to fruition, my dear. Henson has been exceptional during the playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were in a position to sweep the Bucks in this series, until Milwaukee won Games 4 and 5.

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Henson’s production has improved since the playoffs began. During the regular season, he averaged 7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2 blocks. In the playoffs, Henson averages 9.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2 blocks. He found his mojo against Chicago. Henson brought his tough side to this series.

In Game 3, Henson had his first career playoff double-double with 15 points, 14 points and 3 blocks in 39 minutes. Although the Bucks lost this game, Henson’s play was key. However, in Game 5 Henson had 8 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes. The Bucks won by 6 points. If Milwaukee upsets Chicago by winning Games 6 and 7, Henson will be a huge reason why this happens.

Vince Carter (Memphis Grizzlies) – Although Carter may not be the all-star that he use to be, but he still provides leadership and playoff experience. Carter is invaluable to the Grizzlies. His role is to provide scoring off the bench, not to lead this team by scoring.

When you look at his 2015 postseason averages (4.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 46.7% field goal percentage, 37.5% three-point percentage), then you need to remember that he accomplishes these feats while playing 13.5 minutes a game at the tender age of 38. His knees do not allow him to be “Half-Man, Half-Amazing,” though he still amazes us with occasional highlight reel dunks.

The star players for the Memphis are Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley. Despite Tony Allen, Jeff Green and Nick Calathes having more time in the rotation compared to Carter, Carter is one of the few players on this team capable of hitting clutch shots when needed. If the game is on the line, Carter will be on the floor because of what he brings to the table: clutch shooting and playing within the offense when the game is on the line.