With the NBA playoffs just over three weeks away, several former North Carolina basketball standouts are looking to finish the regular season on a high note.
The Kings — who are about to wrap up their best season in over a decade — spent a good portion of the year looking as though they might be able to sneak their way into the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Alas, Sacramento has dropped 10 of its last 14 games and all signs are pointing toward finishing as the ninth seed in the Western Conference.
One of the few bright spots during this recent skid has been the newly acquired Barnes, who was a starter for the Tar Heels when the team made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in both 2011 and 2012.
Barnes has wasted no time getting adjusted to his new team in Sacramento since the Dallas Mavericks traded him back in early February. The NBA champion has posted at least 15 points in each of his last five games and at least 20 in three of his last eight, shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc for his new team.
Another former Tar Heel sharpshooter to change cities last month was Ellington, the new Detroit Pistons shooting guard.
The Pistons are currently in a three-team battle for positioning of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with the Nets and the Heat. Since the acquisition of Ellington, the Pistons are 11-5 with four of those losses coming to teams currently poised to make postseason appearances.
Over his last four games, Ellington is seeing about 28 minutes of action per game and the transition to a new organization clearly hasn’t affected his shooting touch.
During the course of that four-game span, Ellington has shot 47.5 percent from the field while knocking down 44 percent of his 3-pointers. His most recent performance featured seven made 3-pointers en route to putting up 25 points against the Cavaliers.
It will be interesting to see what Ellington can contribute to the Pistons in what is soon be the third postseason run of his 10-year NBA career.
Speaking of the playoffs, Green is in a great position to make another deep run in the postseason. The 2009 NCAA champion hasn’t been to the NBA Finals since he did so with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, but that could change in the coming months.
With 10 games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Toronto Raptors are just two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Green’s season with the Raptors has been nothing short of successful. Throughout this year, Green is posting his third-best points per game average of his career, second-best rebounds per game average of his career and he has a chance to set a career-high for 3-point shooting percentage in a season.
Over his last three games, Green is averaging 14 points, four rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, while justifying his selection to this year’s 3-point contest by shooting 57 percent from downtown.
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