Kevin Durant goes up for a dunk during Game 1 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs on April 13, 2019 in Oakland, Calif.
The NBA and NHL playoffs are now well underway, with 13 U.S. Olympic basketball players and 14 U.S. Olympic ice hockey players taking part. How are they doing so far? We took a look at how the Team USA athletes are doing in the postseason.
Warriors Well Represented
Two-time defending NBA champion Golden State comes into the playoffs as the favorite to three-peat, and the Warriors have no shortage of U.S. Olympians leading the effort. Front and center is forward Kevin Durant (2012, 2016). The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP dropped more than 20 points in each of the Warriors first two games, although the second of those was a historic one in which Golden State lost despite leading by 31 points.
But with Durant playing alongside fellow Olympians Draymond Green (2016), Klay Thompson (2016) and Andre Iguodala (2012), not to mention Steph Curry, the Warriors have plenty of time to come back and claim their fourth championship in five seasons. One Olympian you won’t see on the court, however, is Demarcus Cousins (2016), who tore his quad muscle during Golden State’s loss to the Clippers on Monday. The teams meet again for Game 3 on Thursday.
DRAYMOND. GREEN. pic.twitter.com/TXFLCZSiXk— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 16, 2019
Olympians Lead Their Teams In The East
The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks loom large over the NBA’s Eastern Conference, but three teams could lean on their lone U.S. Olympian to make a deep playoff run. Kyle Lowry (2016) bounced back from a zero-point performance in the Toronto Raptors’ first playoff game, a loss to the Magic, by scoring 22 points, dishing seven assists and making two steals in Game 2 as Toronto evened out the series at 1-1. Jimmy Butler (2016) has been up and down so far in the playoffs, scoring 26 in the Philadelphia 76ers’ loss to Brooklyn, but scoring just seven in his team’s win two days later. The Boston Celtics, meanwhile, have a 1-0 lead over the Pacers, thanks in part to the 20 points from point guard Kyrie Irving (2016). They meet again tonight for Game 2.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 14, 2019
More Gold Medals Out West
The Houston Rockets came closest stopping the Warriors last year, and though this year’s team wasn’t as strong during the regular season, it still features the Olympic tandem of shooting guard James Harden (2012) and point guard Chris Paul (2008, 2012). Harden’s MVP-caliber season has continued into the playoffs as he led the Rockets with 29 points in an easy Game 1 victory over the Jazz. They meet for round two tonight, and a series win by Houston would set up a meeting with Golden State in the second round.
The playoffs haven’t gotten off to as good of a start for Oklahoma City. Despite featuring the dynamic duo of Paul George (2016) and Russell Westbrook (2012), the Thunder are down 0-2 to Portland. Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan (2016) is leading an underdog effort for the San Antonio Spurs, who opened the playoffs with an upset win over the second-seeded Nuggets over the weekend, a game in which DeRozan led the team in points, rebounds and assists. However, Denver tied the series three days later.
Washington Off To Solid Start In Stanley Cup Defense
T.J. Oshie (2014) knows a thing or two about pressure, as evidenced by his marathon shootout performance against Russia during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. Now Oshie and teammates John Carlson (2014) and Brooks Orpik (2010, 2014) are facing the pressure to defend their Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals. They are off to a solid start, having taken a 2-1 lead over the Carolina Hurricanes. Carlson has scored three goals already, while both Oshie and Orpik, a 38-year-old defenseman, have a goal and an assist so far in the series. Their Olympic teammate Justin Faulk (2014) and the Hurricanes will aim to even things out when they host Game 4 on Thursday.
Team USA Newcomers Lead Vegas Redux
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights stunned the hockey world when they made a run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, and the team hardly missed a beat this season with the addition of U.S. Olympic teammates Paul Stastny (2010, 2014) and Max Pacioretty (2014). Behind Pacioretty’s 10 points (four goals, six assists) and Stastny’s eight (two goals, six assists) so far, Vegas is off to a 3-1 start against Joe Pavelski (2010, 2014) and the San Jose Sharks.
Battling It Out
Up north, Blake Wheeler (2014) has five points for the Winnipeg Jets, who dropped their first two playoff games at home before coming back to win the next two on the road in St. Louis. They’ll try to take their first lead in the series when the series moves back to Winnipeg for Game 5 on Thursday.
In Boston, veteran center David Backes (2010, 2014) is helping the Bruins in their hard-fought matchup with Toronto. Backes, who turns 35 next week, has an assist in two games for the Bruins, who trail 2-1 in the series. They face Toronto in Game 4 tonight.
In an upset bid, defenseman Erik Johnson (2010) and the Colorado Avalanche are up 2-1 on the Calgary Flames, with Game 4 set for tonight in Denver. Johnson has a goal and an assist so far while averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time.
Gone, But Not Forgotten
The playoffs had barely started when two of the NHL’s best teams were eliminated in shocking first-round exists. The Tampa Bay Lightning, coming off an NHL-record 62 wins, were swept out of the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are led by captain and two-time U.S. national team player Nick Foligno. Lightning teammates Ryan Callahan (2010, 2014) and Ryan McDonagh (2014) were both held off the score sheet in the four-game series.
“Woke up feeling dangerous!...“ 😎What an incredible night at @NationwideArena last night! So proud of this group and to be able to share our 1st series win with our fans was unforgettable! The job is not done though!! Let’s do this @BlueJacketsNHL fans!! #CBJ #Round2— Nick Foligno (@NickFoligno) April 17, 2019
In any other year, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round result would have stolen the headlines. The 2016 and ’17 Stanley Cup champs were swept out of the playoffs by the New York Islanders. Olympian Phil Kessel (2010, 2014) did his part by scoring a goal and an assist in the series, while Jack Johnson (2010) supported the effort from the blue line.
Maggie Hendricks is based in Chicago and has covered Olympic sports for more than 10 years for USA Today and Yahoo Sports. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.