Duke in the NBA: Former Blue Devils Gear Up for NBA Playoffs

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 4: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 4: Jayson Tatum /

It’s time for the NBA Playoffs and the Dukies in the NBA are well represented throughout the playoff teams.

If you don’t have a team to root for, I can’t say we are going to make your decision easier, but we are going to give you all of your options.

Starting in the Eastern Conference, there are two former Duke players on the Celtics, three if you are a generous person. Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum are the poster children for Dukies on the Celtics, but it is Semi Ojeleye who is on the Celtics but he transferred from Duke after his second year in Durham.

Irving is out for the playoffs with a knee injury, so Tatum will need to be a major force for Boston if they want to continue their season despite all of their injuries.

As the No. 2 seed, the Celtics will be facing the No. 7 seed Miluakelee Bucks, who also have two former Duke players on their squad.

It is Jabari Parker and Marshall Plumlee that are headed to the playoffs with the Bucks, and for Parker, these playoffs are very special. Jabari Parker suffered an ACL injury last season and did not return until the middle of this season. Parker obviously did not play in last years playoff appearance for the Bucks, so this will be his first trip to the postseason.

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It’s also Marshall Plumlee’s first trip to the NBA playoffs, playing at the NBA level with the New York Knicks last season and splitting time between the G-League and the NBA.

There will be another Duke vs. Duke matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat.

For the No. 3 seed 76ers, it is J.J. Redick that it the calming and veteran presence for the young, but surging Philly team. Redick has not missed the playoffs in his NBA career, which is truly remarkable.

On the other side, it is Justise Winslow who will be making his second trip to the playoffs with the Miami Heat. Winslow and the Heat missed the playoffs last season, after making the playoffs in Winslow’s rookie season.

Lastly, in the Eastern Conference, it is Rodney Hood on the No. 4 seed Cleveland Cavaliers who also makes another playoff appearance in his young NBA career.  The Cavs will be taking on the Indiana Pacers. It is Hood’s first trip to the playoffs with the Cavs as he was traded from the Utah Jazz to Cleveland at the NBA Trade Deadline.

Hood reached the Western Conference Playoffs last season with the Jazz.

In the Western Conference, it is the defending NBA Champions that added a former Dukie to its roster in Quinn Cook. Cook has received starter like minutes since Steph Curry went down and with Curry not expected to return for this round against the San Antonio Spurs, Cook should play a major role for the No. 2 seed Warriors.

We now head out to the upper Northwest to Portland, as the No. 3 seed Trail Blazers take on the No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans. Rookie Frank Jackson is on the Pelicans roster but after a preseason foot injury sidelined Jackson for the entire season.

In one of the more intriguing matchups in the First Round of the Western Conference, the No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder and the No. 5 Utah Jazz face off. For the Thunder, it is Kyle Singler that represents Duke and he is entering his third postseason with the Thunder.

As for the Utah Jazz, it is not a player that was a former Duke player, rather the Head Coach, Quin Snyder. Snyder played at Duke from 1985-89 and scored a combined 848 points in his four years at Durham.

Snyder enters his second postseason as the Jazz Head Coach, losing to the Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals last season.

Hopefully, this helps and we didn’t make your decision more difficult to cheer for an NBA team in the playoffs, but if you just can’t pick a team, root for the former players who represent Duke Basketball and Duke University so well.