Gators in the NBA Playoffs

With the NBA playoffs set to kick off on Saturday, the Florida Gators will have alumni playing on seven of the sixteen-playoff teams. Florida boasts a total of eight former players in the playoffs, ranking fifth among college programs.

A look at the Gators participating in the 2013 NBA Playoffs:

Eastern Conference:

Mike Miller, Miami Heat

Miller has had a solid 12-year NBA career and has been a vital role player since joining the Miami Heat. Drafted fifth overall by the Orlando Magic in 2000, Miller has found his niche as a three-point specialist and solid defender. The clutch shooting guard averaged 4.8 ppg, 1.7 apg and 2.7 rpg this season and has come on strong late. Preparing for a run at a second consecutive NBA championship, Miller has averaged 12.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.8 apg in the month of April alone.

Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
Joining Miller is rebounding guru, Udonis Haslem or “The U” as he is affectionately known. The power forward is Miami’s all-time leading rebounder and has averaged 3.9 ppg and 5.4 rpg so far this season. Haslem has been bit by the injury bug a couple times this season but looks to be an important piece for the Heat heading into the playoffs. Haslem was a huge factor in the paint and on defense for the Heat in last year’s NBA championship run.

The number one seeded Miami Heat will kickoff their championship defense against the eighth seeded Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night at 7pm EST.

Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
The charismatic Noah has never been one to shy away from the spotlight. The 9th overall pick by Chicago in the 2007 draft, Noah is a high-effort player who gives everything he has every time he steps onto the court. Noah was an NBA All-Star this season and is the focal point of the Bulls team. Noah averaged a double-double this year, racking up 11.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg and 4.0 apg during the regular season. Chicago got a scare from Noah with a recent foot diagnosis but he has since returned and looks to propel his team to a deep playoff run.

The fifth seeded Bulls will square off against the four seed Brooklyn Nets starting at 8:00pm EST Saturday night.
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
The first of the back-to-back NCAA Championship 04’s drafted; Horford is an All-Star player for the Hawks. Ever since being drafted third overall by the Hawks in 2007, Horford has been the Atlanta leader on the court. The athletic power forward has averaged a double-double this season with 17.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 3.2 apg. For the Hawks to advance in the playoffs, they will need Horford to be at the top of his game.

Atlanta is the sixth seed and will take on the third seeded Indiana Pacers beginning at 1pm EST Sunday.
Western Conference:

Matt Bonner, San Antonio Spurs
A role-model type player, Bonner has been a key bench player for the Spurs over the past several years. Bonner has developed a prowess around the NBA as a skilled big man able to hit from long range. The power forward was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2003 draft by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th pick. Bonner has averaged 4.2 ppg and 1.9 rpg on the season. The aging Spurs have been decimated by injuries heading into the post season and will face a resurgent Lakers squad in the first round.

The number two seeded San Antonio Spurs will face the seventh seeded Los Angeles Lakers starting at 3:30pm EST Sunday.
Corey Brewer, Denver Nuggets
The second of the 04’s drafted, Brewer has had an up and down NBA career before excelling in his new role with Denver. Brewer has played in every game this year for the Nuggets and has played some of his best basketball as of late. The lengthy Brewer is averaging 12.1 ppg and 2.9 rpg on the season for Denver. The young Nuggets are a ton of fun to watch and will need a spark plug like Brewer if they hope to advance deep into the playoffs.

The third seeded Nuggets will take on the Golden State Warriors starting at 5:30pm EST Saturday night in Denver.
David Lee, Golden State Warriors
Lee is not a super star that many people talk about, but he is consistently one of the top big men in the league. Originally drafted by the Orlando Magic in the 2005 Draft, Lee has been crucial for the Warriors this season on his way to averaging 18.5 ppg and 11.2 rpg. Lee will need to show up big for the Warriors as they compete in the stacked Western Conference playoffs.

As mentioned previously, the sixth seeded Warriors will take on Corey Brewer and the Nuggets beginning at 5:30pm EST in Denver on Saturday.

Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets

Since Brad Beal’s Wizards fell short, Parsons is the youngest of the former Gators to make this year’s playoffs. The former SEC Player of the Year, Parsons was not expected to be much of an impact player in the NBA but has quickly become one the best young players in the league. A clutch shooter and floor manager for the Rockets, Parsons is averaging 15.5 ppg, 5.3 apg and 3.5 rpg for Houston this season. Recently coming back from an injury, Parsons will be looked to often as the Rockets hope to advance. Parsons will look to be the go-to clutch shooter that we all know him as since his days in Gainesville.

The eight seeded Rockets will draw the number one seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and kick-off their series beginning at 9:30pm EST Sunday.

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Seth Puglio
Seth Puglio joined GatorCountry while he was finishing his sports management degree at the University of Florida. Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, Seth has been a huge sports fan his whole life and always knew he would want to get into the sports industry anyway he could. He has spent time working for several athletic administrative departments for the Gators and joined Gator Country as an intern in October of 2012. He is now viewing the sports industry from a new angle as Gator Country’s editor. In his free time Seth enjoys fishing, grilling out, watching too much sports and afternoon naps on the hammock. He is a fan of the Gators, Miami Dolphins, Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning. Follow Seth on twitter @spuglio