The second round of the NBA Playoffs will start on Saturday and the matchups will have a definite Big 12 feel, with former Texas forward and two-time NBA champ Kevin Durant tipping things off against Milwaukee.
Durant, who is averaging nearly 28 points per game so far this postseason, leads the Brooklyn Nets into the second round after they defeated the Boston Celtics in five games. In doing so, the Nets sent home Celtics forward and former Longhorns forward Tristan Thompson.
Durant isn’t the only former Big 12 player in the series, either. One of Durant’s teammates is former Oklahoma All-American Blake Griffin, who came to the Nets at midseason. The former NBA Rookie of the Year is averaging nearly five points off the bench for the Nets this postseason.
For the Bucks, former Texas forward P.J. Tucker is one of the team’s top defensive players. He came to the Bucks at midseason as well, the result of a trade with the Houston Rockets. Tucker is averaging just three points and four rebounds a game in the playoffs. The Bucks swept Miami in the first round.
READ MORE: Big 12 Basketball Transfer Tracker
READ MORE: Big 12 NBA Draft Tracker
On Sunday, the Atlanta Hawks begin their series with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Hawks are led by former OU star Trae Young, who had an incredible playoff debut as the Hawks defeated the New York Knicks in five games. Young averaged 29.2 points per game against the Knicks.
The 76ers have former Kansas star Joel Embiid in the post, but it’s unclear if Embiid will play in Game 1 due to an injury. Head coach Doc Rivers wouldn’t rule him out on Friday. Embiid’s season numbers were superb — 28.5 ppg and 10.6 rpg — and they were good enough to make him an MVP finalist. Embiid was averaging 29.3 ppg in his first three playoff games against Washington before he left Game 4 after 11 minutes having scored just eight points.
In the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns, who ousted the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, face the Denver Nuggets. That series begins on Monday.
The Suns have two Big 12 players, but neither is playing much at the moment. West Virginia guard Jevon Carter played in two games in the first-round series against the Lakers and hasn’t scored. Former Iowa State player Abdel Nader has not seen action in the postseason so far.
The same can’t be said for the Nuggets. Monte Morris, the third-year player out of Iowa State, played in all six of the Nuggets’ games in their first-round series win over Portland, as he averaged 15.3 ppg and 5.3 apg. He had 22 points in the first-round series finale.
The Utah Jazz are awaiting the winner of the Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Clippers series. While the Mavs have no Big 12 players, the Clippers have former Kansas star Marcus Morris Sr. But the Clippers extended that series to a decisive seventh game on Friday night.
The Jazz eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies in five games. Utah also has more Big 12 players than any other NBA team left in the playoffs. Former Baylor forward Royce O’Neal averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds in the first round, while former Iowa State forward Georges Niang averaged six points and 2.4 rebounds in five first-round games.
Former Kansas center Udoka Azubuike and former Iowa State guard Matt Thomas are on the roster, but Thomas is the only one of the pair that has played in a playoff game.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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