Patty Mills has excelled in his first Playoff start in his NBA career, proving crucial as the San Antonio Spurs overcame the Houston Rockets in an overtime thriller.
With the Spurs’ Western Conference Semi Finals series against Houston tied at two games apiece, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich elected to start Mills ahead of rookie point guard DeJounte Murray – who had started in Game 4 – and the Boomers veteran vindicated his coach’s decision with his play.
Mills was instrumental playing a team-high 43 minutes, as he scored 20 points including a post-season career-high five made three-pointers and four assists in the Spurs’ 110-107 win.
The feisty point guard also showcased his defensive abilities, forcing a crucial jump ball with Houston’s Eric Gordon late in the overtime period.
“Patty did, tonight, what he’s done for us the entire time he’s been here,” Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich, told reporters in his post-game press-conference.
“Given the circumstances, we just wanted to start out better offensively, and not get in a hold against these guys. If you get behind, you’ve got big problems.”
20-point effort was only topped by MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds, before a left ankle injury caused him to spend most of the fourth quarter and overtime on the bench.
Mills' efforts did not go unnoticed, with Aussie team-mate Matthew Dellavedova and Spurs' legend Bruce Bowen praising the point guard.
The series moves to Houston for Game 6 on Thursday (Friday AEST), where the Spurs will look to close out the series and move on to the conference finals where the Golden State Warriors await.