All eyes are on the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat after the Spurs 112-107 overtime win against the Thunder on Sunday sewed up a rematch of last years finals series.
The Spurs and Heat are fundamentally the same teams as they were last year so the question is what can San Antonio take advantage of that will give them the edge this time?
The answer could potentially be right next to coach Greg Popovitch on the bench; Australian guard, Patty Mills.
When starting point guard Tony Parker left the game with an ankle injury on Sunday, it became clear that Mills, along with fellow backup guard Corey Joseph would become an integral part of the Spurs lineup. Even more so if Parker’s injury hangs around for longer than the first game of the series which starts on Friday.
If Parker doesn’t play in game one, then we can expect to see Mills bring to the starting lineup the ferocious energy that he usually provides from the bench. His talent for harassing opposing teams ball handlers will be a particularly vital skill against Miami’s guards, who are some of the Heat’s weaker players.
Mills grabbed three steals during the win over the weekend and if he puts that kind of pressure on Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and the rest of Miami’s smalls, we could be seeing a lot of easy scoring in transition.
The three point shooting that Mills provides will also be critical in preventing the Miami Heat from winning their third straight championship.
Across his 5 year career, Patty Mills has shot a scorching 40.6 per cent from the three-point line while averaging just under 3 attempts per game (per basketball-reference.com).
Combine this with Marco Belinelli, Matt Bonner, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard who all shoot above 37 per cent from deep and the Heat are going to have a their work cut out for them in trying to stop a barrage of threes.
Combine this with Mills’ solid passing game (1.6 assists to 0.8 turnovers for his career), and he’ll be surprise weapon for the Spurs whether he’s starting place of Parker, or if he’s providing fire off the bench.
Which player do you think will be the key ingredient to a championship in this Miami Heat and San Antonio series? Leave your thoughts down below in the comments or feel free to message me on twitter, my username is @saucemarlow.