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UNC Basketball: A NBA Playoff Tar Heel update

With round one in the books, here’s a look at the Heels’ performances in the NBA postseason.

2023 NBA Playoffs- Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA Playoffs are now fully underway, as this past weekend saw the End of round one and the beginning of round two. At this stage of things, it’s time to take a peak in at the North Carolina Tar Heels who have taken the playoff court this year. Here’s a roundup of round one for former UNC stars in this year’s postseason.

Harrison Barnes - Sacramento Kings

It’s been a resurgent year for Barnes and the Kings, but it came to an end with their Game 7 loss to the Warriors on Sunday.

Barnes’ best game of their series, scoring wise, came in Game 3, when he dropped 17 points in what ended up a Kings’ loss. However when you factor in the defensive end of things, his Game 2 (13 points, +4 in plus/minus in an eight-point win) might’ve been his best game of the series.

Of course, it’s hard to mention Barnes’ playoff run without talking about Game 4. The Warriors walked away with a one-point win in a dramatic game. In the dying seconds of that game, De’Aaron Fox found an open Barnes for what would’ve been a game-winning buzzer beater.

However, he couldn’t knock it down, giving the Warriors a win. Had the shot gone in, the Kings would’ve been up 3-1 and would’ve been in a dominant position to advance. Instead, the series ended up going the distance, where the Barnes and the King’s got Steph Curry-ed.

Cameron Johnson and Day’Ron Sharpe - Brooklyn Nets

We touched a little on Johnson and his impressive performance in Game 2 of the Nets’ series against the 76ers already back when it happened. Despite those heroics, Johnson, Sharpe, and the Nets ended up getting swept by Philadelphia.

Johnson ended up having a solid series in a losing effort, as he ended up being Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer. For the four games, he averaged 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, while knocking down just under 43% of his three-pointers. That was highlighted by the aforementioned Game 2, which saw Johnson go for 28 points, including a pretty sick dunk over potential MVP Joel Embiid.

As for Sharpe, he went for three points and three boards in 9 minutes per game over the course of the series. He did have the highest offensive rating of any Net, for whatever that’s worth.

Danny Green - Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers were a fun, young upstart team that had a breakout season to finish as the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference. They acquired Green — now a well-traveled veteran — in a three-way deal at the trade deadline.

However, Cleveland apparently didn’t have grand plans for Green as he only played nine minutes per game in the Cavs’ first round series, and didn’t appear in their Game 1 loss. He averaged less than a point per game, as Cleveland ended out going out in five games to the New York Knicks.

Coby White - Chicago Bulls

It feels like forever ago, but White and the Bulls were involved in the postseason at one stage. They ended up falling in the final game of the play-in tournament, which would’ve gotten them the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference had they won.

In said play-in in loss, White had a good game, going for 14 points and knocking down four threes off the bench. That performance helped Chicago hold a lead well into the fourth quarter, but the Heat ended up overtaking them in the end. In the Bulls’ first round game in the play-in tournament, White scored nine points on a perfect 4-4 performance from the field.

Had White and the Bulls held on to beat the Heat, things might’ve looked very different in the NBA playoffs as a whole. Since beating Chicago, Miami went on to upset the #1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks and now hold a 1-0 series lead over the Knicks in the conference semifinals.

Unfortunately, that’s that for Tar Heels in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Oh well.