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UNC Basketball: Tar Heels in the NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs start in nine days and six Tar Heels will be part of it.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament may have drawn to a close on Monday night (congrats Villanova...grrr), but for six proud sons of Chapel Hill, postseason basketball is only about to begin. In nine days the NBA Playoffs will begin, and while there are still a few teams looking to clinch a berth to the NBA’s Second Season, we do know which former Tar Heels will be taking part.

Here are the UNC players to look for in the NBA Playoffs:

Raymond Felton

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The 2005 National Champion and Cousy Award winner has carved out a solid role for himself in Oklahoma City, serving as the primary backup to Russell Westbrook. In 17 minutes per game, Felton has averaged 6.9 ppg, and 2.5 apg while averaging a team-best 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Head Coach Billy Donovan has often praised his steady-hand-at-the-tiller floor leadership for the Thunder’s second unit. OKC may not be the super team that some may have hoped when Paul George and Carmelo Anthony came to town, but they still can play with anyone in the West not named Houston or Golden State. Felton’s ability to run the offense with Westbrook resting will go a long way towards determining if OKC can make noise in the postseason.

Wayne Ellington

NBA: Miami Heat at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 Final Four has continued to supply shooting off the bench for a Miami team that has built on last year’s strong finish to the season to make it back to the playoffs in 2018. Ellington averages 11.1 ppg, hitting 39% of his threes in 26.6 mpg. Miami has made it back to the playoffs of the strength of its defense, but if they are going to pull an upset in the first round, they will need to get hot on the offensive end, where they struggle at times. As the team leader in three-point attempts, Ellington may well have his number called.

Danny Green*

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

*As of Thursday, the Spurs sit in 5th in the West, two games ahead of the 9th place Denver Nuggets.

Dancin’ Danny has been his usual self, a premier 3 and D player for a San Antonio team that once again has relied on an eclectic and unlikely mix of players (Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes?!). The normally stable Spurs have had an unusual season dealing with the bizarre ongoing case of Kawhi Leonard, one constant has been Green, who once again has been playing elite perimeter defense while proving a threat from beyond the arc. Green is averaging 8.8 ppg and hitting 37% of his threes in 2018. The Spurs will need a strong team effort without Leonard and Green, an experienced veteran of many postseason runs, will be leaned on for leadership.

Ed Davis

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The 2009 National Champion has been a strong bench performer for Portland in what has proven to be a surprising year for them. No team in the NBA has surprised and impressed more than the Trail Blazers, who once again lean on the elite backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ “The Duke Killer” McCollum. Portland’s frontline doesn’t get a lot of love, but Ed has been a solid reserve player, spelling Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu. His 7.6 rpg are second on the team and he leads the squad shooting 59% from the field. The Blazers are looking at possibly New Orleans, Minnesota, or San Antonio in the first round, all of which have elite big men. If the Blazers want to survive those teams, Davis will need to contribute.

John Henson

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year has solidified his spot as a starter in Milwaukee, adding his length and shot-blocking to an interior defense that features the force of nature known as Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Greg Monroe since departed and Thon Maker moved to reserve, Henson has become the primary rim protector for a Bucks team that, finally healthy, could prove to be a sleeper come playoff time. Henson is 8.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 1.5 bpg in 26 minutes of play. Best of all, he has recently been reunited with...

Tyler Zeller

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 ACC Player of the Year and Academic Player of the Year was traded from Brooklyn two months ago, supplying the Bucks with some extra interior offense ahead of their playoff run. Safe to say that Zeller might be feeling pretty good about being lifted from the bastion of ineptitude that is the Brooklyn Nets. He’s been solid in his first 20 games with Milwaukee, averaging 5.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg on 54% shooting. Both he and Henson, part of one of the greatest front lines in Carolina history, will try for the upset in the first round.