It could be a while before the Wizards see a return to the NBA playoffs, but a number of players with local ties are making postseason appearances - most notably, a future superstar who was expected to make a playoff run and a role player who was not.
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, a D.C. native, continues his postseason run as the Thunder take on their second-round opponents, the Memphis Grizzlies, who have three local players on their squad - Greivis Vasquez, a Rockville native who played college ball at Maryland, Baltimore native Rudy Gay, and D.C. native Sam Young.
The Grizzlies took Game 1 on Sunday, 114-101 in Oklahoma City.
"We dug ourselves a big hole," Durant said following the loss. "But I always emphasize staying positive. It's a long series. We've got to come out with more fight in the next game," Durant said.
The Grizzlies just completed a stunning upset over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, and while Gay remains out with a left shoulder injury, Vasquez played 23 minutes and scored 11 points in the close-out game that sent Memphis to the second round.
Former high school teammates at Montrose Christian in Rockville, Durant and Vasquez are more than a little familiar with one another's strengths and weaknesses, adding another layer of drama to an already compelling and unexpected playoff matchup.
Beginning their second-round series as members of the top-seeded Chicago Bulls on Monday are D.C. natives Keith Bogans and John Lucas, who take on the Atlanta Hawks, while two other locals, Jeff Green and Delonte West of the Boston Celtics, are playing in the most anticipated matchup of the playoffs against the Miami Heat. The Heat took Game 1 on Sunday in an already contentious and physical series.
Green is from Cheverly and played college ball at Georgetown; West is a D.C. native who is in his second stint with the Celtics. Green was a surprise acquisition at the February trading deadline in a deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. Green still is finding his rhythm with the Celtics, but with the Big Three of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce starting to show their age, Green could be the start of a future rebuild.
Although their teams didnt make it past the first round, Clinton native Ty Lawson saw playoff action as a guard for the Denver Nuggets, along with D.C. native Roger Mason Jr., also a former Wizard. The most well-known local one-and-done playoff participant was Knicks All-Star and Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony.
Fort Washington native Jarrett Jack, a guard for the New Orleans Hornets, and D.C. native Chris Johnson, a center for the Portland Trailblazers, also saw first-round playoff exits, along with Spurs guard Gary Neal.
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