The NBA postseason is well underway, and former Duke men's basketball players are starring in their teams' victories. The Blue Zone takes a look:
Jayson Tatum closes out quarterfinals
After just four games, the No. 2-seed Celtics are on their way to the conference semifinals. Tatum was undoubtedly the secret sauce Boston needed to get past Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s depth-filled Nets team with ease—leading three of those contests in points and the other in rebounds and assists. Though the first two meetings were held in Boston’s territory at TD Garden, the Celtics no longer had home-court advantage come April 23 when the first of the team’s two away matchups took place. Despite being a test of Boston’s vitality away from its own court, the group took both games. Tatum was a star from both above and below the arc and on the charity stripe. In Boston's Game 3 win, the St. Louis native drained 13-of-29 from the field, went 4-of-13 from deep and finished 9-of-10 attempts from the line to notch 39 total points. All while playing stellar offense, Tatum was also playing intense defense, as he grabbed six steals by the final buzzer. In the final first-round matchup, the former Duke star upped his accuracy from the field to go 9-of-16 and also shone in his treys, finishing 4-of-6. The 6-foot-8 small forward’s postseason averages of 29.5 points, 7.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds bode incredibly well ahead of Boston’s first semifinal matchup with the Bucks Sunday afternoon.
Grayson Allen notches leading performances
The teams of just three former Blue Devils remain in the playoffs, and with two top-notch showings from Allen, it’s clear why No. 3-seed Milwaukee is one of them. Though it wasn’t obvious from the Bucks’ first two performances against the No. 6-seed Bulls that the Jacksonville, Fla., native would be a difference-maker—he scored a total of three points across two matches—by the time Game 3 came around, Allen flipped a switch. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard proved his prowess at his position, going 8-of-12 from the field, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Allen’s 22 points led his team on the night and his overall performance was integral to the victory, especially when the team’s scoring leader, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was limited to 18 points. Just two days later, Allen showed up again for the Bucks to help them win a third game—going 10-of-12 from the field and draining an impressive 6-of-7 treys for 27 points. In Milwaukee’s round-winning game Wednesday, the Duke product went 3-of-6 from downtown to close out his remarkable series with 13 more points. But now that Allen and the Bucks are further down the road, the group faces a challenge against another former Blue Devil—Tatum and the Celtics.
Tyus Jones makes clutch shot
Keeping up with Jones these days should be no issue, as the Grizzlies’ point guard has seen quality minutes on the court. Though the Burnsville, Mn., native isn’t a regular starter for Memphis, Jones saw 20+ minutes in his last three performances, where he was a much-needed playmaker. In the Grizzlies’ second loss to the Timberwolves, Jones played strong defense, tallying four rebounds and a steal, while also remaining robust on the other side of the ball—going 2-of-3 from deep and 5-of-5 from the line. The former Blue Devil continued to shine from beyond the arc, grabbing three more treys in the team’s following two games, while also putting on intense defensive performances, with three steals and four rebounds throughout Games 5 and 6. And, despite only scoring 10 points in Game 6, the Duke and Memphis faithful alike were reminded of Jones’ clutch shotmaking college days when, as his team led 103-102, he drained a shot clock-beater with 1:10 to go to extend its advantage. Jones and the Grizzlies next face a formidable Golden State team Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
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Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.