LITTLE ROCK — With the first week of the NBA playoffs in the books, former Arkansas stars and big men Bobby Portis and Daniel Gafford have already put their imprints on their teams’ postseason fortunes, and for their efforts they’ve earned Pro Hoop Hogs Co-Players of the Week honors.
Portis (6-10 forward / center, Little Rock native) averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game off the bench while shooting 58.6% from the field, including 46.2% from 3, and 75.0% from the free throw line to help the 3-seed Milwaukee Bucks sweep the 6-seed Miami Heat, 4-0, to advance to the Eastern Conference playoffs semifinals where they’ll take on the winner of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series winner. Milwaukee avenged last season’s playoff series loss to the Heat, who went on to win the Eastern Conference playoffs before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2019-20 NBA Finals.
Portis, he’s now racked up 10 PHH POW honors this season, was effective scoring inside and out as he finished with a combined boxscore +/- of plus-26 for the 4-game series. In the Bucks’ game-4, series-clinching 120-103 road win over the Heat on Saturday, Portis finished with 13 points (5-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-7 from 3), 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 19 minutes. In the game before that, Portis was one rebound shy of a double-double as he notched 11 points (5-of-7 field goals, including 1-of-2 from 3) and 9 rebounds in 17 minutes in a 113-98 road victory over the Heat.
Gafford (6-10 center, El Dorado native) averaged 12.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 22.0 minutes per game while shooting 86.4% from the field and 65.0% from the free throw line through four games as his 8-seed Washington Wizards are hanging on to their postseason lives trailing the top-seed Philadelphia 76ers, 3-1, in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Gafford — he now has 8 PHH POW honors this season — made his first career NBA-playoffs start on Monday as his 12 points (4-of-4 field goals and 4-of-7 free throws), 5 blocks, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in 26 minutes helped the Wizards stave off elimination with a 122-114 home win over the 76ers in game 4 of their best-of-7 series. The two teams will meet up in Philadelphia for game 5 on Wednesday, June 2.
* Former Arkansas star Patrick Beverley (6-1 guard) has started twice in four playoff games and is averaging 4.5 points and 1.0 rebound in 13.0 minutes per game while shooting 46.7% from the field, including 37.5% from 3, as his 4-seed Los Angeles Clippers are tied up with the 5-seed Dallas Mavericks, 2-2, in their Western Conference first-round, best-of-7 playoff series. Beverley has won 2 PHH POW honors this season.
* Former Arkansas star Isaiah Joe (6-4 guard, Fort Smith native) has played in two of his top-seed Philadelphia 76ers’ four games against the 8-seed Washington Wizards in their first-round, best-of-7 playoff series as the Sixers hold a 3-1 advantage. Joe — he’s in his NBA rookie season — combined for 7 minutes, 0-of-2 shooting from 3, and 1 assist in his two playoff appearances in games 2 and 3 of the series, both Philadelphia victories. Joe has won 4 PHH POW honors this season.