SEVEN AUSSIES SET TO CONTEND IN THE 2019 NBA PLAYOFFS

Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden- Philadelphia 76ers
3rd in East Conference

The 76ers have reached the post-season for a second consecutive season and will now be aiming to progress further than their Conference Semi-Finals finish from last season.

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Simmons was a part of that run and will be better for the experience while Bolden will hopefully get his first taste of the NBA playoffs after getting a chance to show what he is capable of with some extended minutes through April.

It will be interesting to see how coach Brett Brown utilises him now that we are in the business end of the year but Simmons will play a major role in Philadelphia’s fortunes as he comes up against Brooklyn’s back court.

Avoiding a sophomore slump, Simmons’ numbers have been consistent with his first year and he is averaging 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

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He has had no problems getting on the scoreboard against the Nets either, bumping his scoring up to 19.5 points while also adding three steals per game across four meetings.

First Round Opponent: Philadelphia vs. Brooklyn (all times AEST)

Game 1- Sunday 14th April at 4.30am
Game 2- Tuesday 16th April at 10am
Game 3- Friday 19th April at 10am
Game 4- Sunday 21st April at 5am
Game 5 (if necessary)- Wednesday 24th April
Game 6 (if necessary)- Friday 26th April
Game 7 (if necessary)- Sunday 28th April

Aron Baynes- Boston Celtics
4th in East Conference

A frustrating season for Baynes has seen him miss 13 games with a finger fracture, 11 with a foot bruise, three with a hamstring strain and two with an ankle strain.

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That troublesome ankle reared up again before Boston’s final regular season game and after missing that clash, Baynes is now in doubt for Game 1 of their series against Indiana.

The Celtics are also sweating on the health of Al Horford and without their two centres, they could struggle to contain Myles Turner.

Baynes is notorious for fighting through the pain though and he will be desperate to help Boston get through the first round and back to a position many expected the Celtics would be in as one of the pre-season Championship favourites.

First Round Opponent: Boston vs. Indiana (all times AEST)

Game 1- Monday 15th April at 3am
Game 2- Thursday 18th April at 9am
Game 3- Saturday 20th April at 10.30am
Game 4- Monday 22nd April at 3am
Game 5 (if necessary)- Thursday 25th April
Game 6 (if necessary)- Saturday 27th April
Game 7 (if necessary)- Monday 29th April

Thon Maker- Detroit Pistons
8th in East Conference

Traded from Milwaukee to Detroit mid-season, Maker now faces up against his old team in the first round of the playoffs.

For Maker, it is his third consecutive appearance in the post-season but coming up against the side with the best record in the league will most likely signal an early exit for the Pistons.

The Aussie will still have enjoyed the second half of the season in the Motor City though, increasing his minutes to 20 per game and putting up 5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.

Game 1 will be the first time he takes on Milwaukee and it is an unenviable task as he looks to shut down the likes of MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and streaky shooter Nikola Mirotic.

First Round Opponent: Detroit vs. Milwaukee (all times AEST)

Game 1- Monday 15th April at 9am
Game 2- Thursday 18th April at 10am
Game 3- Sunday 21st April at 10am
Game 4- Tuesday 23rd April at 10am
Game 5 (if necessary)- Thursday 25th April
Game 6 (if necessary)- Saturday 27th April
Game 7 (if necessary)- Monday 29th April

Andrew Bogut- Golden State Warriors
1st in West Conference

One of the surprises of the 2018/19 season was not only Bogut’s return to the NBA but his reunion with the Warriors, the team he won the 2015 Championship with.

He now looks to be in the box seat for another title and has proven to be a solid addition to Golden State’s front court coming off the bench, showing he still has it in a clash against Detroit when he recorded eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

The Warriors have cruised through another regular season, clinching the top seed in the West, but a couple of uncharacteristic losses will see them lose home court advantage in the Finals if they take on Milwaukee or Toronto.

Nothing seems to faze this Golden State team though and Bogut is still the favourite to become the second Aussie to win multiple NBA Championships, alongside Luc Longley.

First Round Opponent: Golden State vs. LA Clippers (all times AEST)

Game 1- Sunday 14th April at 10am
Game 2- Tuesday 16th April at 12.30pm
Game 3- Friday 19th April at 12.30pm
Game 4- Monday 22nd April at 5.30am
Game 5 (if necessary)- Thursday 25th April
Game 6 (if necessary)- Saturday 27th April
Game 7 (if necessary)- Monday 29th April

Joe Ingles and Dante Exum- Utah Jazz
5th in West Conference

An up and down season for the Jazz saw them sitting at 14-17 at one stage while they also suffered a 50-point defeat at the hands of Dallas in November.

They turned around their season by winning 13 of their last 16 games though to secure the fifth seed and set up a first round series against Houston.

Taking on MVP candidate James Harden and the in-form Rockets may not be ideal but Utah claimed their past two meetings against Houston to give them confidence heading into next week.

Ingles was a key piece of those two victories, averaging 14.5 points, six rebounds, three assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 7-12 from the three-point line.

His consistency is another important part of his game and Ingles recently passed the 300-consecutive games played mark, the best streak of any active NBA player.

The same can’t be said for Exum unfortunately, whose horrible luck with injuries has continued in 2018/19.

Having only played 41 games, a recent MRI found that Exum has a partially torn patellar tendon and if he has surgery on that, it will spell the end of his year.

First Round Opponent: Utah vs. Houston (all times AEST)

Game 1- Monday 15th April at 11.30am
Game 2- Thursday 18th April at 11.30am
Game 3- Sunday 21st April at 12.30pm
Game 4- Tuesday 23rd April at 12.30pm
Game 5 (if necessary)- Thursday 25th April
Game 6 (if necessary)- Saturday 27th April
Game 7 (if necessary)- Monday 29th April

Patty Mills- San Antonio Spurs
7th in West Conference

Rounding out the Australian representatives, Mills is headed to his ninth playoff campaign while the Spurs have made their 22nd consecutive post-season which is a record for any of the top four US sports.

Putting together another strong year, Mills has played an important role as the longest tenured member of the San Antonio roster and while he continues to come off the bench, he is often assigned with finishing games.

Denver are favourites heading into this series but the experience of the Spurs give them a chance to cause an upset with Mills having an important job trying to match the output of guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.

First Round Opponent: San Antonio vs. Denver (all times AEST)

Game 1- Sunday 14th April at 12.30pm
Game 2- Wednesday 17th April at 11am
Game 3- Friday 19th April at 11am
Game 4- Sunday 21st April at 7.30am
Game 5 (if necessary)- Wednesday 24th April
Game 6 (if necessary)- Friday 26th April
Game 7 (if necessary)- Sunday 28th April

The post SEVEN AUSSIES SET TO CONTEND IN THE 2019 NBA PLAYOFFS appeared first on Basketball Australia.

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