The NBA is back, and Patty Mills made sure that the Spurs, and the Aussies in the NBA, bought the new season in with style.
Facing the league's improved super team, the Golden State Warriors, did not seem to bother Mills. He finished with 11 points, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 0 turnovers, in just 17 minutes of play. His hot shooting continued on from the preseason, going 3/5 from beyond the arc. All adding up to a 129-100 Spurs victory.
The 29-point margin was setup by a brilliant end to the first quarter from San Antonio. Mills played an impressive role in this stretch. He came off the bench with energy, poking a steal loose, finding his teammates, and hitting a big three with under 30 seconds remaining. The Spurs led 31-20 at quarter time and never looked back from there, going on to win every quarter, and eventually the game.
Arguably Mills' best play came late in the second quarter in transition. A quick outlet pass from Aldridge got the Aussie the ball, and in no time he was driving to the basket, getting Steph Curry to bite on a hesitation, and finishing at the rim.
If anyone questions Mills' effectiveness, they only have to look at his +/- from the win. While he was on the court, the Spurs went +35. This was the best from not only any player in this game, but the best from any player on opening night around the league.
Mills' performance, despite only being one game, has increased the talk around him replacing Tony Parker in the starting lineup. Parker, who's 34 year old this year, managed just 9 points and 4 assists in 26 minutes of court time. And for those keeping score at home, San Antonio was -12 when he was on the court.
If Mills can continue what he did today, and Tony Parker struggles, then Gregg Popovich might have to make a tough decision. Either put the Aussie in the starting lineup, or increase his minutes to the level of a starter.
What a start to the NBA, and what a game by Patty Mills. It seems he wants to continue on from the Olympics, leading the Aussie charge.
Full highlights below: