Following the All-Star break, our Aussies get back into the grind of the regular season. Ingles is back on the court, Exum reflects on his rookie season so far, and Patty has a new statistical milestone.
Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors)
ICYMI: Bogut on SEN Morning Glory earlier this week, on his #1 ranking in the BRW Australian athlete salary list, the media and more.
Bogut's first game right after the All-Star break came up against the Spurs, and the Dubs won handily. Baynes had an unintentional hit on Bogut with some tough play during the game, which was reviewed and later called as a non-foul. Bogut was literally, cool with it though.
Good win. Aussie on Aussie crime tho!!!! Nothing ice can't fix.... #godubs
— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) February 21, 2015
Bogey did not post big numbers on the stat columns (4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks), but left his trademark impact once more, coming away with a +/- rating of 10.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was unsurprisingly, cognizant and complimentary on Bogut's impact on the team's offensive strategy this year.
"Bogut's great. He's one of our keys, he's a brilliant passer, we like to run a lot of our offense through him, and then defensively he's the rim protector. When he's on the floor, it feels like he's our best guy in the middle, on both ends in terms of creating offense and then stopping people at the other end..." - via Darrel Wilson, All-Star Weekend
Looking ahead to Rio 2016 Olympics
"It's a lot of work," Bogut said. "We have the qualifications coming up, I'm not counting Rio right now because we have to earn that.
"New Zealand are definitely not walkovers, they play really hard so if we don't play well against them then we won't go to the Olympics.
"My mindset is to be a part of the games against New Zealand and we have a big job at hand." - Andrew Bogut prepares for battle as NBA playoffs, Rio Olympics loom
It certainly sounds like Bogut's pumped and looking beyond the NBA playoffs, even if the prospect of a possible championship might look like the biggest job at hand.
Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs)
San Antonio has been hit with a tough back-to-back road trip, right after returning from the break. The Spurs came up close against the Clippers in a 115-119 loss, and fared worse against Golden State, ending the night with a 110-99, 11-point deficit. Baynes had a solid night against the Warriors. He came out with a double-double of 12 points (6 of 12) and 10 rebounds (2 offensive).
Baynes has been scoring consistently this week, posting double-digit games as the Spurs' starting center. His timing and movement has been impeccable, which allowed teammates to feed him the ball at opportune moments. Observe this play, where Tony Parker drove on the screen and roll and baited DeAndre Jordan into jumping for the block, before dishing it off to Baynes. It might look like Parker's work, but Baynes' purposeful roll movement caught the recovering Hawes off, and forced DA to choose between the two.
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Another interesting wrinkle to look at: could the Warriors maintain their flexibility against traditional big man lineups like Memphis (Gasol/Randolph) and in this case, San Antonio (Baynes/Duncan)? You can see how the Spurs drew Bogut out of the paint with Duncan at the high post. This allowed Baynes to seal his defender off promptly, and get an easy bucket before help arrived.
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The final unanswered question though, will be the one looming ahead come April: will he be battle-tested enough to make a positive impact in the playoffs, when defenses are less likely to miss a beat?
Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls)
Cam has yet to return to the court, following the All-Star break.
Dante Exum (Utah Jazz)
A quick reminder of what was missed during the Rising Stars Challenge for our Aussie duo!
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Onwards to the week. Exum did talk about getting shots up in the gym over the All-Star break (source). While the continuous effort to practice will pay off in the long run, it's unlikely to turn things around overnight.
Exum's latest outing against the Blazers got him 3 points (1 of 4 FG), 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. The assists were the promising aspect of his game this night, as he drove and found Rodney Hood for an open shoot at the arc.
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This is in line with what Exum talked about, in wanting to "just come out aggressive and keep getting people involved … just sharing the ball, working as a unit and trying to build that relationship for the future." (source)
Earlier during the break, he also reflected on the season's experience so far from a team perspective.
"It's been a learning process for us. It's good that I'm on a young team. We all can learn together and grow together as a team. I think that's been kind of important for us this year, staying upbeat when we all lose. Looking toward the positive of the future and growing together as a team." - Rising Stars: Exum, Muhammad, Wiggins working at different stages
While growing pains are still very much a thing with this young team, there's no reason to see why they will not get better, especially with Kanter's departure and Gobert is free to take the reins at starting center. The Gobert-Exum combo is going to be a staple menu item moving forward, count on it.
Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz)
by Hayley Wildes
The All-Star weekend paid dividends for many players; Russell Westbrook went to a whole new level and Zach Lavine made a name for himself. But, quietly without any fanfare, Joe Ingles was able to use the All-Star weekend to his advantage too. The All-Star break came at the perfect time for Ingles and his niggling back injury.
The time off allowed Ingles to fully recover from the back injury which saw him miss 3 games leading into the All-Star break. He clearly enjoyed his time off, soaking up the West Coast sun:
This San Fran weather is amazing!
— Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) February 14, 2015
I’m sure his time in San Francisco was just as much about recovery and rehab, as it was relaxing in the sun for a few days. Ingles fronted the media at shootaround before his return and talked about his injury, the trade deadline, and seeing a great friend and teammate in Steve Novak being traded.
Ingles made his return for Utah against Portland yesterday. He regained his starting position at the two-guard, alongside fellow Aussie Dante Exum. I will never get tired of seeing 2 Aussies holding down the starting backcourt positions of an NBA team. The game was taken over in the second half by Utah and they ran away with the impressive win, 92-76. Ingles was obviously pumped to be back, and loved getting the win against a powerhouse of the west.
Ingles definitely tested out his back, with over 30 minutes of playing time. The great news is he looked to be moving freely and had the confidence to take 3 three-pointers, and connecting on 2 of them.
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He finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. The next few days are extremely important for Ingles. The team will be keeping a close eye on his back and hopefully it reacts well to the stress of intense basketball, especially with twisting movements like this pass in the air for an Elijah Millsap corner 3.
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What should help Ingles’ cause is the fact that Utah don’t play again until Tuesday, when they take on the Spurs. That should be a fantastic game, and I urge you all to tune in and hopefully see four Aussies on the court at once.
Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)
by Alistar Sulivan
After a solid 7-day break from his debut in Brooklyn for the Rising Stars game, Delly was full of energy come game time against Washington on Saturday.
Maybe J.R Smith did show Delly a thing or two over the All-Star break, in terms of shooting confidence rather than the city's bright lights. Matty shot this this long range bucket in transition with no hesitation, no conscience and it was all swish.
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Delly played with his trademark high energy whilst shooting the ball well, hitting 50% from the floor and ending up with 8 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds in a extended 23 minutes on the court as the Cavs rolled the Wizards 127-89.
Delly is becoming a loveable character around the locker room, and teammates have the upmost respect and praise for his work ethic and determination.
Kyrie Irving had this to say, when it came to practice sessions pitted against Delly:
It's great man. My first year, when he first came, a lot of chippy practices, a lot of, almost-fights with him, and now he's just a great teammate and a great friend of mine because he brings that fire every time he steps on the floor, and that's what you want from a teammate. One of those things where I'm glad he's on my side instead of the opposing side. We're just continuing to get better, me as the starting PG, him as the backup. I'm just happy for him and his development. - via Darrel Wilson, All-Star Weekend
This drive in the Wizards game was also indicative of growth in the decision-making area. Following the screen from Mozgov, Matty kept the defense guessing as he drove in. Gortat was playing it safe, keeping Mozgov within reach and failed to contest the Delly floater in time.
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Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
ICYMI: Patty's jersey was retired at St Mary's College recently #GodIsAGael
A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Feb 21, 2015 at 10:55am PST
Patty struck a big milestone this week, with 400 career assists being reached. Congratulations to our favourite Spurs guard!
He had a poor night against the Clippers with 1 of 7 shots made (0 of 5 from deep), and was 1 of 3 from the the arc the following night against Golden State. Nothing to worry about as yet, but it's something to keep in mind as the season rolls to a close. Things like scoring potency matter a lot, and it could be a big factor that determines Patty's minutes versus fellow guard Cory Joseph.
With that being said, we can never discount the amount of effort Patty displays on the court, every minute and every second out there. He's relentless off the ball, and shows it especially on defense. Check out how he hunts down J.J. Redick right after the switch, and makes sure to leave no opening for the the veteran shooter.
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It's the little things like these that matter. It sounds really cliched, but defense is all about effort and consistency. Even when you get embarrassed a little by Jamal Crawford.
Game schedule for the week featuring Aussies in the NBA
We are using an embedded Google Calendar format, which would hopefully make it much easier for all of you to keep track on when our favourite Aussies in the NBA are hitting the court!
Game schedules courtesy of NBA on ESPN.