And then there were two.
When the NBA playoffs kicked off last month there were 10 former Duke players who were hoping to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Now that 12 teams have been eliminated, there are just two Blue Devils still hoping to be champions.
Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy, Grant Hill, Dahntay Jones, Shavlik Randolph and J.J. Redick all were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, with Duhon's Lakers and Dunleavy and Redick's Bucks swept in four straight games.
In the Conference Semifinals, Bulls teammates Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer were sent home. While Boozer was productive throughout the playoffs, averaging 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, Deng was on the sidelines for the entirety of the Conference Semifinals due to illness and then complications from a spinal tap.
With eight Blue Devils down, the only representatives from Duke remaining are rookie Miles Plumlee of the Indiana Pacers and Shane Battier of the reigning champion Miami Heat.
Plumlee's Pacers won a physical series against the Knicks to earn the right to play the Heat in the Conference Finals, but Plumlee has yet to appear in a single playoff game. He only appeared in 14 games this season for Indiana.
Battier took a much more active role in his team's road to the Conference Finals, helping the Heat defeat the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls. Though Battier's offense has slumped in the playoffs—he's averaging 5.6 points on lowly 26 percent shooting—he is an invaluable part of the Heat defense. Battier will surely see plenty of Indiana forward and Most Improved Player of the Year Paul George when the Eastern Conference Finals begin Wednesday night.
If the Pacers defy odds and win the NBA championship, Plumlee will become just the third Blue Devil from the Mike Krzyzewski era to win the title, joining Danny Ferry (2003 with the San Antonio Spurs) and Batter, who won last season. Battier, should Miami repeat, will be the first Duke player to win titles in back-to-back seasons.
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