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BBNBA: 21 former Kentucky Wildcats make the NBA postseason

On3 imageby:Adam Stratton04/15/24


The 2023-24 NBA regular season is officially in the books. In total, 30 former Kentucky players saw minutes at some point this year across 20 different teams. Say what you want about how that came that came to pass, it is an incredible achievement. I hope Mark Pope crushes it at Kentucky. He is a breath of fresh air and his love for the name on the front of the jersey is a rejuvenating perspective change.

However, the days of Lexington being an NBA factory may be over, at least in the same sense we have grown to know in the last 15 years. I’m not saying that is either good or bad, but as we sit on the precipice of a new era in Kentucky basketball, it is worth tipping the cap to what will likely sunsetting of the unreal quantity of active NBA talent who wore blue and white in college.

Case in point, this year, teams to make the playoffs or the play-in games roster 21 former Kentucky players. That is, you know, a lot. It may be a year or two before it washes out, but cheers to an incredible run.

Devin Booker and the Suns avoid the play-in game, secure playoffs

Sunday’s final regular season contest for every team spawned some serious seeding shuffling, and perhaps none more significant for former ‘Cats than the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Suns entered Sunday in 7th place, which would have put them in the play-in game. They needed to beat the Timberwolves and have the New Orleans Pelicans lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in order to bump up to the 6-seed and secure a playoff spot without having to fight it out in the play-in.

That’s exactly what happened. Behind Devin Booker‘s 23 points and seven assists, the Suns downed the Timberwolves in Minnesota 125-106. The loss also dropped the Wolves, who entered the game tied for first place in the West, down to third, setting up for a Phoenix-Minnesota first-round matchup.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who was playing in just his second game back from a knee injury, had 10 points and six rebounds as he looks to get back into game shape for a playoff run.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis dropped 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Lakers beat the Pelicans to secure the 8th spot in the standings. That means the two teams will face off again in the play-in game. The winner secures the 7-seed and a first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets.

Tyrese Maxey leads 76ers to 8th-straight win

Playoff-wise, the Eastern Conference season finale did not generate as much drama, but that did not stop Tyrese Maxey from staying hot. The favorite for the league’s Most Improved Player award had 26 points and led the Philadelphia 76ers to a win over the Brooklyn Nets, their 8th-straight to end the season.

Conventional sports wisdom says that you want to play your best basketball going into the postseason and that is exactly what the Sixers are doing. They’ll have MVP candidate, Joel Embiid back too, which helps.

The win secured 7th place in the East, so they will play Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Heat in the first play-in game.

Other BBNBA Notes:

  • Just four days after scoring a season-high 23 points against the Suns, Brandon Boston Jr. scored 15 points in the Clippers’ finale on Sunday against the Rockets. It is hard to say what is next in Boston’s career, but his time in LA is likely done as his contract expired. He may latch onto another NBA team next season but he could also be a guy who ends up overseas. Best of luck either way.
  • Nikola Jokic will almost assuredly win the NBA MVP award, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gave him a run for his money. The former Kentucky guard exploded this year, and somehow got the Thunder to first place in a stacked Western Conference. SGA in the playoffs will be must watch TV.
  • Boban Marjanović did not go the Kentucky, but the stunt in a meaningless Rockets game Sunday will touch the heart of Rupp Arena faithful. In the NBA, Chick-fil-A runs the same Fowl Shot promotion as they do at Kentucky where if an opposing player misses two free throws the arena gets free chicken. Boban revved up the crowd as he stepped to the line and intentionally missed his free throws so that everyone walked out with credit for free chicken. That, my friends, is the stuff of kings.

NBA Playoff Bracket

Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports
Kim O’Reilly, CBS Sports

BBNBA Statistics for 4/14/2024

Anthony Davis (LAL)124-108 W vs. NOP3013-17 (0-1)113203+1533
Tyrese Maxey (PHI)107-86 W vs. BRK2610-20 (3-7)33102+1829
De’Aaron Fox (SAC)121-82 W vs. POR2410-14 (2-3)23311+1326
Devin Booker (PHX)125-106 W. vs. MIN236-16 (3-8)47101+2036
Jamal Murray (DEN)126-111 W vs. MEM217-14 (3-7)64012+2724
Bam Adebayo (MIA)118-103 W vs. TOR178-10 (0-1)62314+1219
Tyler Herro (MIA)118-103 W vs. TOR175-11 (2-5)68106+2229
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)135-86 W vs. DAL155-11 (0-4)16000+3316
Brandon Boston Jr. (LAC)105-116 L vs. HOU155-16 (2-6)63406-431
Cason Wallace (OKC)135-86 W vs. DAL125-6 (2-2)21010+3415
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)106-125 L vs. MIN103-8 (1-4)62005-1829
Johnny Juzang (UTA)116-123 L vs. GSW82-5 (2-4)12000+1319
TyTy Washington (MIL)88-113 L vs. ORL63-4 (0-0)0200007
Trey Lyles (SAC)121-82 W vs. POR51-4 (1-2)83000+2719
Immanuel Quickley (TOR)103-118 L vs. MIADNP-Rest
PJ Washington (DAL)86-135 L vs. OKCDNP-Rest
Malik Monk (SAC)121-82 W vs. PORDNP-Knee
Keldon Johnson (SAS)123-95 W vs. DETDNP-Foot
Nick Richards (CHA)120-110 W vs. CLEDNP-Foot
Jarred Vanderbilt (LAL)124-108 W vs. NOPDNP-Foot
Olivier Sarr (OKC)135-86 W vs. DALDNP-Did not dress
Ashton Hagans (POR)82-121 L vs PORDNP-Did not dress
Oscar Tshiebwe (IND)157-115 W vs. ATLDNP-Did not dress
Chris Livingston (MIL)88-113 L vs. ORLDNP-CD
Julius Randle (NYK)120-119 W vs. CHIDNP-CD
Isaiah Jackson (IND)157-115 W vs. ATLDNP-CD
Jacob Toppin (NYK)120-119 W vs. CHIDNP-CD
Shaedon Sharpe (POR)82-121 L vs PORDNP-CD

Play-in Game Schedule

Tuesday, April 16
7:30 pm (TNT): [8] Lakers (Davis, Vanderbilt: out) @ [7] Pelicans
10:00 pm (TNT): [10] Warriors @ [9] Kings (Fox, Lyles, Monk: out)

Wednesday, April 17
7:00 pm (ESPN): [8] Heat (Adebayo, Herro) @ [7] 76ers (Maxey)
9:30 pm (ESPN): [10] Hawks @ [9] Bulls (Remember when this was going to be an important game for Kentucky fans?)

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