Florida Gators in NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals

With the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs underway, 10 of the 11 former Florida Gators basketball players in the league advanced to the postseason. The Gators were represented on nine of the 16 playoff teams with four starters and six reserves active for competition. The 10 total UF players in the postseason marked the most of any school this year.

Five have since advanced to the Conference Finals round, representing all four of the teams remaining in the field. As such, a former Gators player is guaranteed to win the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive season.

OnlyGators.com breaks down how each player fared during the Conference Semifinals as well as their respective outlooks going forward.

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Al Horford game-winner leads Atlanta Hawks to 82-81 victory over Washington Wizards

Going back-and-forth in the final minute on Wednesday, the Atlanta Hawks eventually pulled off an 82-81 victory over the Washington Wizards in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on the back of a game-winning layup by center Al Horford.

The former Florida Gators star flew into the paint just seconds remaining, grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball in with less than two seconds left, turning a potential one-point loss into a one-point victory.

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Florida Gators in the 2015 NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals

With the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs underway, 10 of the 11 former Florida Gators basketball players in the league advanced to the postseason. The Gators were represented on nine of the 16 playoff teams with four starters and six reserves active for competition. The 10 total UF players in the postseason marked the most of any school this year.

Seven have since advanced to the second round. OnlyGators.com breaks down how each player fared during round one as well as their respective outlooks going forward.

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, Hill, Tebow, Beal, Speights

1 » All indications are that the news on Chandler Parsons’s knee injury is going to get worse before it gets better. According to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks fear their forward will need microfracture surgery, a procedure that would keep Parsons on the bench through the start of the 2015-16 season. Doctors will investigate the severity of Parsons’s injury with a scope once the swelling goes down; the hope is that he has simply damaged his cartilage, which could be repaired with less-invasive arthroscopic surgery. Parsons will enter the second season of a three-year, $46 million deal in 2015-16, and he serves as a building block for a Mavericks team hoping to turn things around with a younger roster next year.

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Florida Gators in 2015 NBA Playoffs: First Round

With the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs underway, 10 of the 11 former Florida Gators basketball players in the league advanced to the postseason.

The Gators are represented on nine of the 16 playoff teams with four starters and six reserves active for competition. The 10 total UF players in the postseason marks the most of any school this year.

OnlyGators.com breaks down how each player fared during the 2014-15 regular season as well as their respective outlooks for the playoffs, which began on Saturday.

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TWO BITS: Beal on Donovan, Wambach honored

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal, now with the Washington Wizards, appeared on The Dan Patrick Show Friday and discussed whether he believes Florida head coach Billy Donovan will be successful in the NBA should he choose to leave the Gators. “I think he’d be great. I agree with the rumors. I think he’ll definitely leave. He won’t pass that opportunity up too many times,” Beal said. “And I think he’ll be a tremendous coach. He loves playing the pick and rolls. He loves to space the floor and he loves to give his players freedom. I definitely think he’ll excel in the league.”

Read without context, that can be taken as Beal suggesting he knows Donovan will leave Florida; however, in the context of the question, it is more of an assessment of his former coach’s ability to succeed in the league, especially since the “rumors” are not guaranteeing he is leaving the Gators but rather citing it as a possibility.

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FOUR BITS: Haslem, Culpepper, Beal, Parsons

1 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has only shot 13 three pointers over 751 career NBA games before last Friday, so why has he attempted three since? According to the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson, his coach told him he needs to start doing so if the 34-year-old plans to play major minutes in place of Chris Bosh. “If I want to play [power forward], I have to shoot the corner three. It’s part of our offense,” he told Jackson. “If I’m going to play the four, I have to implement that. you’re not going to make all of them, but you have to take them with confidence. I’m going to make some.” Haslem started his career 0-for-16 from three (0-for-3 with the Florida Gators), draining his first trey on Friday. He is 0-for-2 since for a combined 6.3 percent lifetime from beyond the arc.

2 » According to David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune, who painstakingly did the research, no Southeastern Conference coaching staff has seen more turnover in the last 15 years than Florida. The Gators have had 65 coaches rotate in and out of the program in that time, nine more than the next-highest program (Ole Miss, 56) and nearly 20 more than the average among the other 13 SEC schools (45.4). That average is weighed down heavily by Missouri (17) and Georgia (30), though UF’s high number is still indicative of its hiring issues, especially most recently under Will Muschamp.

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2 BITS: SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Miller, Hernandez

1 » The Southeastern Conference and Big 12 announced Thursday that the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which began last season, will undergo a significant format change. Instead of being 10 games played over three days in the fall, it will now be 10 games played in one day early in the spring. That date has been set for next season with all 10 games tipping off on Saturday, January 30, 2016, though match-ups have not yet been determined at this time. “Moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge later in the season will raise the profile of this event and give our coaches, student-athletes and fans the attention that it deserves,” said Mike Slive, the SEC’s commissioner. The 10 games will all be played on ESPN networks with the four SEC teams not given match-ups going head-to-head against each other on the SEC Network that day.

The Florida Gators wound up playing a home-and-home series against Kansas in the first two iterations of the event, hosting the Jayhawks last season and travelling to Lawrence, Kansas, this fall. Florida is expected to host an SEC/Big 12 Challenge game in 2015-16, though renovations to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center would have proved that difficult if the game was played during its previously-scheduled window. Whether the event was moved to help accommodate UF remains to be seen, but the scheduling adjustment was not just made for next season but for the duration of the event’s existence.

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