MILLS, INGLES AND EXUM ADVANCE TO NBA CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

MILLS, INGLES AND EXUM ADVANCE TO NBA CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Three of the five Australians that reached the 2017 NBA Playoffs have advanced to the Conference Semi-Finals as the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz won their respective series'.

ADVANCED

Patty Mills- San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs were made to work against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, needing six games to escape their physical opponents but they eventually prevailed to set up a clash with Houston in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Mills came off the bench as Tony Parker's back-up point guard, averaging 10.1 points, two rebounds and 1.7 assists in a strong performance.

He helped cover Memphis' star point guard in Mike Conley as well as defend the likes of rookie Andrew Harrison and streaky shooter Troy Daniels but it was at the offensive end that Mills' game truly shone.

In Game 1, he was perfect from distance on 3-3 shooting to finish with nine points but his shot deserted him in Game 2, hitting just 1-9 although he atoned slightly for that with three assists.

Mills (11 points) contributed to a strong bench performance in Game 3 as the Spurs's second unit scored 52 points but they lost their first game of the series.

They then fell in overtime in Game 4, a game that will go down in playoff history, and unfortunately Mills (six points, four assists) was on the wrong end of history as he had a potential game-sealing lay-up blocked from behind by Harrison.

Three days later, San Antonio were back at home and locked in another tight battle as the game entered the final term.

Mills stepped up, hitting 4-4 from long range in the quarter to clinch the match as he tallied 20 points on 7-10 shooting with two rebounds and an assist.

He hit double-digits again with ten points as the Spurs secured the series in Game 6, hitting 4-6 in another efficient 22-minute performance.

Mills now has a tough task against the Rockets, an up-tempo side that shoot a lot of three's from their bench which features Eric Gordon and Lou Williams while the Aussie may also find himself guarding MVP candidate James Harden at times.

Spurs v Rockets Schedule (AEST)

Game 1: Tuesday, May 2 at 11.30am
Game 2:
Thursday, May 4 at 11.30am
Game 3: Saturday, May 6 at 11.30am
Game 4: Monday, May 8 at 11.00am
Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, May 10
Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, May 12
Game 7 (if necessary): Monday, May 15

Joe Ingles and Dante Exum- Utah Jazz

The Jazz have won their first playoff series since 2009-10 after a stirring Game 7 victory over the LA Clippers but they have been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire with a match-up against the Championship favourites, Golden State Warriors.

Ingles continues to make waves in the NBA with his impressive three-point shooting combined with his lockdown defence making him a critical part of Utah's make-up.

Starting every game of the series, he averaged 6.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, four assists and 1.9 steals for the series.

He kept one of the best three-point shooters in the league, JJ Redick, extremely quiet and managed to expose Luc Mbah a Moute at the offensive end.

While the crafty Chris Paul was able to bring him undone on a few occasions in the pick and roll, the Jazz were still able to utilise Ingles' length to disrupt the Clippers' set plays consistently.

The Aussie shot 6-16 from three-point range across the first three games of the series but then exploded in Game 4, recording a season high for the Jazz and a career high for himself with 11 assists to go with eight points, six rebounds, two steals and a block.

He was unable to hit the scoreboard over the next two games but contributed with another seven assists before playing a crucial role in Game 7.

Over 36 minutes, the second most of any Jazz player, Ingles collected 12 points, five boards, four steals and a rejection while helping to hold Redick to just 1-5 shooting as Utah closed out the series on the road.

Exum was unable to have the same impact, only seeing court time in Games 4, 5 and 7 for a total of just 24 minutes although he did record two rebounds, two assists and a steal in Game 7.

The Jazz now face the Warriors who breezed through the first round without a loss.

They will go into the series as heavy underdogs but Ingles will play a major role in their fortunes as he guards the likes of Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala.

Jazz v Warriors Schedule (AEST)

Game 1: Wednesday, May 3 at 12.30pm
Game 2:
Friday, May 5 at 12.30pm
Game 3: Sunday, May 7 at 10.30am
Game 4: Tuesday, May 9 at 11.00am
Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday, May 11
Game 6 (if necessary): Saturday, May 12
Game 7 (if necessary): Monday, May 15

KNOCKED OUT

Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker- Milwaukee Bucks

After a surprise win in Game 1 on the road over the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee were unable to maintain that success as they won just one game for the rest of the series to fall 4-2.

In his rookie season, Maker was a shining light in the series though, staring all six games and proving to the basketball world that he has a real future in the NBA.

He led the team in rejections on his way to averaging 5.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.8 blocks per game.

His defence was sound throughout the post-season, finishing off the series with five big blocks in Game 6 while he showed he can be a threat offensively with 11 points on 3-5 shooting in their Game 3 victory.

Dellavedova actually played more minutes than Maker despite coming off the bench on his way to averaging 7.7 points, two boards and two assists.

He was tasked with covering Raptors' point guard Kyle Lowry and back-up Cory Joseph and while the Bucks started the series well, Toronto eventually found too many avenues to the basket through their two main scorers in Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

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