With another week of the playoffs in the books, let's check again on how soon-to-be free agents are faring in the postseason. You can catch up on the first and second installments by clicking the links. A number of players on expiring contracts are putting up impressive performances in the second round, but with size always a premium in the NBA, let's focus on three big men who are getting it done:
Kevin Garnett, Celtics: Garnett turns 36 today, but he's not atop this list because it's his birthday. It's hard to overlook his 3-for-12, nine-point, seven-turnover outing in the Celtics collapse against the Sixers last night, but Garnett's playoff renaissance has been one of the most compelling stories of the past few weeks. His 192 total points in 10 playoff games is more than anyone except Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and teammate Paul Pierce. Garnett's scoring (19.2) and rebounding (11.0) averages are his best in the playoffs since the Celtics' run to the title in 2008. He's protecting the basket, too, averaging 1.8 blocks per game. That's a figure he only exceeded once in the regular season, during his MVP year in 2003/04.
Tim Duncan, Spurs: A few weeks after his 36th birthday, Duncan can't believe how healthy he feels, and that's certainly been reflected in his play. He's led in his team in scoring with 22.0 PPG in two wins over the Clippers, while also averaging 7.5 rebounds, two steals and a block during the series. His 53% shooting for the postseason as a whole is the third-best percentage he's ever had in the playoffs, and his 25.4 PER is the fifth best of anyone on any playoff team this year. It's hard to imagine him leaving the Spurs, but he's probably earned a few extra dollars and another year or two on his next contract with his throwback performance.
Roy Hibbert, Pacers (restricted): He has exploited the Heat's weakness inside to the tune of 14.7 PPG and 13.3 RPG in three games against Miami, with three blocks a night to boot. He's pulled down 14 offensive rebounds in the series so far, and forced Miami coach Erik Spoelstra to start little-used Dexter Pittman in a vain attempt to match up with Hibbert's 7-foot-2, 278-pound size. For the playoffs as a whole, he's averaging 12.4 PPG and 11.8 RPG, and at age 25, he might be the No. 1 center on the free agent market this summer.
Ray Allen, Celtics: His 1-for-7 performance in Boston's closeout victory over the Hawks in the first round has carried over to the series against the Sixers. Allen is averaging only 9.3 points per game against Philadelphia on 29.4% shooting from behind the arc. That's not much of an improvement over his 27.8% three-point accuracy against the Hawks. Odder still is his 60% postseason free-throw shooting. He says his right ankle feels all right, but you have to wonder.
Matt Barnes, Lakers: His appearance on this list has a lot to do with Metta World Peace's return from suspension, but it never helps a free agent's case to become a forgotten man. He's played just 41 minutes so far against the Thunder, taken just seven shots, pulled down four rebounds and has more turnovers (four) than steals (three). The red flags will be flying especially high if he doesn't get much time tonight, with the Lakers playing a rare playoff back-t0-back.
Reggie Evans, Clippers: Evans, too, has seen his minutes cut drastically in the second round, but in his case there's not a clear reason why. Foul trouble might be to blame for his paltry eight minutes in Game 1, but he picked up just one foul as coach Vinny Del Negro went to him for just 11 minutes in Game 2, and his lack of playing time has contributed to an 82-66 advantage for San Antonio on the boards. Evans has seven rebounds in the series so far after bettering that total in six of the seven games against Memphis.