Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2014 Contents A59
May 18, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
SAN ANTONIO---The physical
transformation of Patty Mills was
so dramatic one could be excused
for wondering if the San Antonio
Spurs had signed a new point guard
in the offseason.
Gone was the somewhat doughy
physique that jiggled when Mills
sprang from the Spurs bench, madly
waving towels to punctuate a basket
by one of his teammates.
body, game for Spurs
Spurs' Patty Mills
(8) charges up
grabbing a loose
ball as Dallas
attempts to slap it
away in the
second half of
series on April 28
in Dallas. Spurs
A healthier diet and improved conditioning has
done more than transform Mills physique. It has
turned him from someone who led choreographed
cheers from the bench to a key reserve that creates
chaos on the floor with his long-range shooting
and pestering defense.
"He s a really committed player," San Antonio
coach Gregg Popovich said. "He came in this year
with a changed body that he worked on all summer.
Mentally he s been making great decisions. He s
been a significant factor for us all season."
Mills helped the Spurs earn the league s best
record, and the Australian s emergence could be
even bigger now that Tony Parker is dealing with
an ailing left hamstring.
When Parker left Game 5 against Portland in the
second quarter, Mills responded with 18 points,
three steals, three rebounds and two assists in 26
minutes as the Spurs rolled to a 104-82 victory to
close the series.
"He is very aggressive," teammate Boris Diaw
said. "At the same time, he had to be a leader and
he had to be under control like Tony does. He did
Parker sat out 14 games this season, including
two weeks for what Popovich deemed "rest." The
Spurs were 11-3 without their All-Star point guard,
and Mills presence was a big reason behind that
success. He averaged 10.2 points and 1.8 assists in
a career-high 18.9 minutes per game.
"It was huge, it was huge," Parker said of Mills
development. "Patty s played great this year. He
had a hard time the first couple of years to try to
find a spot, but this year he came in and he was
Popovich made no bones about what was keeping
Mills from being a viable option in his previous
two seasons with the Spurs.
"He was a little fat ass," Popovich said. "He had
too much junk in the trunk. His decision-making
wasn t great, and he wasn t in great shape. He
changed his entire body. He came back svelte and
cut and understood you have to make better deci-
sions, point-guard type decisions. He did all those
things better and he earned it."
While the six-foot Mills is still listed at 84 kilo-
grammes (185 pounds) as he was last season, he is
much more trim and toned. It s earned him some
playful teasing from teammates that he rarely wears
a shirt around the locker room anymore.
"My fitness base has given me the ability to play
stronger for longer period of time. It s definitely
helped for sure, I m glad I did it."
After averaging 5.1 points in 11.3 minutes during
San Antonio s run to the NBA Finals last year, Mills
quickly emerged as the team s primary backup at
point guard this season after entering the year
behind Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo on the
"It s just understanding my role on the team and
understanding where you can get shots in the offense
and do stuff defensively that I didn t really under-
stand before," Mills said.
More so than his offence, Mills determination
on defence has led to the increased role with the
team. His pestering presence from the moment the
ball is inbounded resulted in 79 steals this season,
including 11 in 12 postseason games.
Mills emergence has also allowed Parker to enjoy
his time on the bench, transforming the team s
spirited guard into a raucous cheerleader at times.
When Mills hit a key basket late in a regular-
season victory over the Trail Blazers, it was Parker
who sprung from the bench waving a towel in cel-
"No, he didn t, no, he didn t," Mills said. "I wish
I had seen that. I need to see some footage."
Tomorrow, Spurs take on Oklahoma Thunder in
game one of the Western Conference Finals. (AP)
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