Patty Mills showed that it doesn't matter if he starts or not, coming off the bench for 18 points against the Miami Heat (box score). In what was a tight affair, the Aussie's production and efficiency helped his team to a 106-99 win.
Mills shot the ball at 60% from the field, while going 4/6 from beyond the arc. He once again outplayed Tony Parker, who could only manage 3 points, 4 assists, and 3 turnovers in 22 minutes of action. Mills' consistent play was rewarded with more playing minutes than the French veteran this game.
It was a relatively quiet first half from Mills, who only managed 3 points. He switched gears afterwards, recording 15 points across the next two quarters. Gregg Popovich left Mills in the game down the stretch, and in return the Aussie helped maintain the Spurs' perfect start to the season.
This is not the first time Patty Mills has lit up the Miami Heat. It was only a few seasons ago that he had arguably the greatest game from an Australian in NBA Finals history. Having a third quarter to remember in a championship sealing game 6.
The start to this season has been remarkable from Mills. Through four games he is averaging 13.3 points, 2.8 assists, and only 0.5 turnovers. He currently sits in the top 10 in 3-point percentage (59.1%), with the likes of Kyrie Irving (50%), Damian Lillard (44.4%), and Steph Curry (42.9%) trailing him. He leads the league in the 3-point field goals made (13), however he does have one game up on most of his competition.
Another fantastic Mills performance, coupled with an average game from Tony Parker, has again forced discussion on who should be the starting point guard. It is likely that Popovich will continue to play it as he did today, bringing Mills off the bench but giving him more minutes than Tony Parker. This means the dynamics of the two groups (starters & bench) can remain the same, while Mills will get more opportunity on court.
Last year there was some calls for Matthew Dellavedova to be a Most Improved Player candidate. However, this year, if Patty Mills can maintain his output, he will be a genuine chance to claim the award. It is very early on in the season, but so far Mills has showed no signs of slowing down. Today's performance came in the second game of a back-to-back.
2016/17 has started off with a bang, and it could very well be the season of the Spur. Just make sure you don't sleep on #8.