Tar Heels in NBA: Green, Bullock and Johnson open second-round series; all have dealt with injuries to star teammates

By R.L. Bynum

Four Tar Heels begin play Monday night in the conference semifinals of the NBA playoffs and while none of them have dealt with injuries, star teammates have missed games to create challenges for their playoff runs.

When Danny Green’s Philadelphia 76ers visit the Miami Heat at 7:30 Monday night (TNT) for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series, it will be without Joel Embiid. Reggie Bullock and Theo Pinson’s Dallas Mavericks meet Cameron Johnson’s Phoenix Suns Monday at 10 p.m. in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series after both teams weathered key injuries during the first round.

Via @UNC_Basketball

Embiid, who averages a team-leading 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, is dealing with an orbital fracture, a concussion and a torn ligament in his right thumb. Because of concussion protocols, Embiid isn’t expected to play until Game 3 on Friday at the earliest.

During the Sixers’ 4–2 first-round series victory over the Toronto Raptors, Green averaged 9.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, both up from his regular-season numbers. He scored 14 points in Game 5 and 12 points in Game 6 and will have to produce at least that many without Embiid in the lineup for the two games in Miami.

In addition to playing good defense against Toronto, he’s defending James Harden, who the Sixers acquired midseason from the Brooklyn Nets, from critics.

“I’ve learned being in this league that they don’t appreciate a lot of guys until they’re gone,” Green said on his “Inside the Green Room” podcast. “And [Harden is] one of those guys, just like with LeBron [James], and even Steph Curry has haters, which is crazy.

“He’s one of the nicest, most religious, winning guys,” Green said of Harden. “There’s nothing wrong with him. But everybody in the league has people who hate them. It’s usually fans of other fan bases, other teams. But there’s always going to be people who criticize and find weaknesses.”


All of Bullock’s playoff numbers are better than he produced in the regular season and the Mavericks needed that when Luka Doncic (calf injury) missed the first three games of the first-round series with the Utah Jazz. Dallas still won two of those games, with Bullock scoring in double-digits in all three, and won the series 4–2.

Bullock averaged 10.7 points and six rebounds per game against Utah, shooting 44.7% from the floor, 40.5% from 3-point range and making all four free-throw attempts. He had nine steals in the series.

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His defense was important for Dallas. Utah had the best offensive rating in the NBA during the regular season at 116.2 but that dropped to 108.4 in the series, thanks to tough defense by Bullock on All-Star guard Mike Conley.

Bullock averaged 42.4 minutes per game in the series and that number would have been higher if he had not been ejected in the fourth quarter of Game 5 reacting to a hard foul against Doncic.

Dallas coach Jason Kidd said that Bullock was “sick as a dog” the day of Game 6 and still played 44 minutes while scoring a series-low six points.

Theo Pinson was on the sidelines cheering on the Mavericks all series but wasn’t active for any game.


Phoenix also won two of three games without an injured star. In the Suns’ case, that was Devin Booker, who missed three of the last four games of their 4–2 series win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Johnson, who started while Booker (hamstring) was out, scored a series-high 13 points in Games 1, 4 and 6. His scoring average was down from the regular season (11.0 points per game in the playoffs vs. 12.5 during the regular season) and he didn’t shoot as well from 3-point range (35.7% in the playoffs vs. 42.5%) in the series.

Tar Heels in conference semifinals

Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks guard/forward
Playoff statistics —
6 games, 10.7 points, 44.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 4–4 FT, 6.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Regular-season statistics —
68 games, 8.6 points, 40.1 FG%, 36.0 3P%, 83.3 FT%, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Mavericks-Suns Western Conference semifinals

Monday at Phoenix, 10 p.m., TNT
Wednesday at Phoenix, 10 p.m., TNT
Friday at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Sunday at Dallas, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
X — Tuesday, May 10 at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
X — Thursday, May 12 at Dallas, TBD, TBD
X — Sunday, May 15 at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
X — If needed
———————————————
Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers forward
Playoff statistics —
6 games, 9.0 points, 35.8 FG%, 36.4 3FG%, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Regular-season statistics —
62 games, 5.9 points, 39.4 FG%, 38.0 3FG%, 20–24 FT, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists
Heat-Sixers Eastern Conference semifinals
Monday in Miami, 7:30 p.m., TNT
Wednesday in Miami, 7:30 p.m., TNT
Friday in Philadelphia, 7 p.m., ESPN
Sunday in Philadelphia, 8 p.m., TNTD
X — Tuesday, May 10, in Miami, TBD, TBD
X — Thursday, May 12, in Philadelphia, TBD, TBD
X — Sunday, May 15, in Miami, TBD, TBD
X — If needed
———————————————
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns wing
Playoff statistics —
6 games, 11.0 points, 46.0 FG%, 35.7 3FG%, 66.7 FT%, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Regular-season statistics —
66 games, 12.5 points, 46.0 FG%, 42.5 3FG%, 86.0 FT%, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Mavericks-Suns Western Conference semifinals
Monday at Phoenix, 10 p.m., TNT
Wednesday at Phoenix, 10 p.m., TNT
Friday at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Sunday at Dallas, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
X — Tuesday, May 10 at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
X — Thursday, May 12 at Dallas, TBD, TBD
X — Sunday, May 15 at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
X — If needed
———————————————
Theo Pinson, Dallas Mavericks guard
Playoff statistics —
Hasn’t played
Regular-season NBA season statistics —
19 games, 2.5 points, 35.9 FG%, 33.3 3FG%, 10–10 FT, 1.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists
G League season statistics — 14 games, 15.7 points, 40.4 FG%, 38.6 3FG%, 84.8 FT%, 4.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals
Mavericks-Suns Western Conference semifinals
Monday at Phoenix, 10 p.m., TNT
Wednesday at Phoenix, 10 p.m., TNT
Friday at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Sunday at Dallas, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
X — Tuesday, May 10 at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
X — Thursday, May 12 at Dallas, TBD, TBD
X — Sunday, May 15 at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
X — If needed
———————————————
Photo via @sixers

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