Keeping up: Ohio State Buckeyes in the NBA, week of 3/18-3/24

Conley drilled three three-pointers in the win over Minnesota on Monday

While the eyes of the basketball world were fixed on the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, the NBA kept moving towards the playoffs, and some of the Buckeyes in the NBA had a little bit better time than the current Ohio State basketball team last week.

While Buckeye fans are longing for the days of Conley and Oden leading Ohio State on a Final Four run, Jared Sullinger doing the same just a few years ago, or Evan Turner doing everything to help the Buckeyes get to the Sweet Sixteen, those players have moved onto bigger things. The Buckeye alumni in the NBA have to been upset that Ohio State got stunned by Dayton and didn't progress any farther in the tournament so they might have some bragging rights over their fellow teammates. While Ohio State might have not progressed very far in the postseason, those in the NBA that are working their way towards the playoffs are hoping to not suffer the same fate.

Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies

Right now Memphis is playing some of the best basketball in the NBA, and that has helped them move up to seventh spot in the Western Conference, a half-game in front of Phoenix. The key behind the hot play from the Grizzlies lately has been what they are getting from their point guard. In wins over Indiana on Saturday and Minnesota on Monday, Conley has been feeling it from the field, going a combined 18-27 over the two games. Conley scored 21 points against Indiana, and followed that up with 23 points in the 109-92 win over the Timberwolves.

The only so-so game that Conley played last week came in the lone loss for the Grizzlies, when he shot only 4-12 from the field as Memphis lost 91-86. The rest of Conley's stats were consistent all week, with his assists ranging between four and seven, his rebounds ranging between four and five, and registering three steals in two games and two steals in another.

The Grizzlies will continue to play like this from Conley, with Phoenix just a half-game back in eighth place, and Dallas also just a half-game back in ninth. Memphis is two and a half games back of Golden State for sixth place, so if they continue their strong play there is a chance the Grizzlies could put some pressure on the Warriors. Wherever the Grizzlies happen to sit if they make the playoffs, they'll be in for a tough first round matchup. San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and the Los Angeles Clippers sit in the first three spots in the stacked Western Conference.

Kosta Koufos - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies

While Mike Conley is helping to lead Memphis as the Grizzlies have gone 8-2 over the last 10 games, Kosta Koufos continues to give Memphis some strong play off the bench. With his time on the court ranging from 14 to 20 minutes last week, Koufos was pretty consistent with the numbers he put up for the most part. Aside from only scoring two points against Indiana on Saturday, Koufos had either seven or eight points in the rest of his games last week.

Mostly though the biggest contribution that Koufos gives Memphis is with his defense. The rebounding totals for Koufos ranged from five rebounds in the loss to Miami, to eight rebounds in the win over Minnesota on Monday night. Koufos also was able to swat at least one shot in three of the four games last week.

Evan Turner - G/F - Indiana Pacers

The struggles for Turner and the Pacers continued last with, with Indiana dropping three of the four games that they played. It was an extremely quiet week for Turner, as he scored only three points in a loss to the Knicks to kick off the week on Wednesday, and also only put in three points to close the week in a loss to Chicago on Monday. The offense of Indiana has been really struggling lately, only hitting 90 points once last week, and not even reaching 80 points in two games.

The most productive game for Turner came on Friday night when he scored six points and dished out seven assists in the 91-79 win against Chicago. With the recent struggles of the Pacers, they'll have to turn things around quickly as Miami is gaining ground in the race for first in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers are only two games ahead of Miami currently for the top spot, and Miami has played two less games on the season. A big week from Turner off the bench could help spark Indiana to regain some of the lead that they held on the Heat.

Jared Sullinger - F/C - Boston Celtics

After playing five games the previous week, it was a rather light week for Sullinger and the Celtics. Boston only had two games scheduled last week, and they split those games, most notably beating Miami on Wednesday night. Against the Heat Sullinger finished with 14 points, including hitting a couple three-pointers, four rebounds, and three assists.

Since Sullinger missed some time due to a concussion last month, the Celtics have switched things up with Sullinger now coming off the bench and Kris Humphries starting at center now. This has been the case the last 11 games, and barring any injury should continue the rest of the season with Boston out of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.

Byron Mullens - F/C - Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia did what they do best last week, losing all four games that they played go extend their losing streak to 25 games. The 76ers almost messed around and won a game though, barely escaping Friday night's game with a 93-92 loss to the Knicks. All the losses have given Byron Mullens some playing time off the bench, and he made the most of it last week, with strong performances book-ending the week.

In the 102-94 loss to Chicago on Wednesday, Mullens scored 12 points in 15 minutes on the court, grabbing three rebounds to go along with his points. In the middle of the week Mullens played 10 minutes in each of the losses to the Knicks and another loss to the Bulls, scoring three points in each game.

The week ended with what has been the best performance of the short 76ers career of Mullens, as a red-hot San Antonio team downed Philadelphia 113-91. Mullens hit three three-pointers and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes on the court. With just under a month to go, Philadelphia can't let up on the losing as they still trail Milwaukee for worst record in the NBA.

Greg Oden - C - Miami Heat

Greg Oden seems to be adjusting nicely to his new role as starting center for Miami, and his worth was shown when the Heat lost the two games that he didn't play in. The games that Oden missed were the second games of back-to-backs for the Heat, which he has been held out of since returning just as a pre-caution.

In the three games that Oden played, he ranged in the area of playing 12-15 minutes. The former Ohio State center made his presence known, blocking two shots in two of the games. Oden didn't do a ton offensively, registering a high of six points in the 100-96 win at Cleveland on Tuesday. Oden's presence in the lane to alter shots is improving, and will be a key aspect to watch during the playoffs for Miami. The Heat had a couple playoff-caliber wins last week, defeating Memphis on Friday, and narrowly escaping with a 93-91 win over Oden's former team Portland on Monday.

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