Australia’s NBA stars are ready for the playoffs

Australia’s NBA stars are ready for the playoffs

With San Antonio, Utah and Milwaukee all locking in NBA playoff berths this week, we take a look at the Aussies in their respective lockers rooms.

 

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Patty Mills has been sensational off the bench for Gregg Popovich’s experienced squad, shooting 41 per cent from behind the three point line while averaging 10 points and 22 minutes per game.

 

The Spurs will face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs, with the Spurs locking up the Western Conference’s second seed and the Grizzlies cementing the seventh seed on Friday.

 

UTAH JAZZ

Dante Exum and Joe Ingles and the Jazz were sitting pretty in the West’s coveted fourth playoff spot until Saturday when they were shredded 101-86 by the Portland Trail Blazers.

 

Adding to the Jazz’s woes, the Clippers beat the Spurs to take the fourth spot.

 

The Clippers and Jazz both have 49 win, 31 loss regular season records, but the Clippers hold the tiebreaker advantage.

 

They are well ahead of sixth-placed Oklahoma City so destined to meet in the first round of the playoffs, with the only question what team will secure the fourth seed and gain home court advantage.

 

The Jazz face the Warriors and Spurs in the final two regular season games, but that might not be so daunting as Warriors coach Steve Kerr and the Spurs’ Popovich, with playoff spots cemented, likely to rest their stars.

 

The Clippers finish against the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings.

 

The final two games of the regular season and the playoffs could be career-defining for Exum, with the Jazz desperate for the Melbourne-born 21-year-old to step up.

 

Exum is just one of two healthy point guards on the Jazz and will go head-to-head with one of NBA’s greats at the position, the Clippers’ Chris Paul who has schooled the Australian in the past.

 

Ingles has had the best NBA season of his career, averaging 24 minutes a game, seven points and connecting on 44 per cent of his three-pointers.

 

 

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

The Bucks ended a worrying three-game losing streak and clinched a playoff berth on Saturday by taking advantage of the injury-devastated Philadelphia 76ers 90-82.

 

Their 41 win, 39 loss record places them in sixth position, just behind the Atlanta Hawks (41-38) and one ahead of the Indiana Pacers (40-40).

 

If the standings hold for the rest of the regular season the Bucks will play the Toronto Raptors in the first round, but if they jump ahead of the Hawks they will face the Washington Wizards.

 

Matt Dellavedova will bring his Cavaliers’ playoff experience to a team of young guns, headed by forward-guard Giannis Antetokounmpo and fellow Aussie and one of the NBA’s best rookies, Thon Maker.

 

VACATION PLANNING

Australia’s Ben Simmons, the NBA Draft’s No.1 pick, was supposed to lead the beleaguered Philadelphia 76ers’ revival, but less than a month before the 2016-17 season began he fractured his foot and gave former NBL coach Brett Brown another horror season.

 

The 76ers have the fourth-worst record in the NBA with 28 wins and 52 losses.

 

Queensland big man Aron Baynes and his Detroit Pistons also entered the season with high expectations, but they have spluttered to a 36-43 record and have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Dan BoyceAuthor: Dan Boyce (316 Posts)

Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90's of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards