Aussies Abroad: Mills leads NBA stars ready for playoffs

Aussies Abroad: Mills leads NBA stars ready for playoffs

The NBA playoffs are a little over a week away with Australian Boomers trio Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut set for long post-season runs.

In San Antonio, Mills and Baynes are part of the squad with the NBA’s best record and will claim the number one seeding in the Western Conference thanks largely to a recent 19-game winning streak.

While Baynes has not been part of the active roster in recent games for the past two weeks, Mills is currently enjoying the most consistent period of his Spurs career, averaging 12.8 points per game at 46.6% shooting since the start of February, playing over 20 minutes per game.

This form was continued as Mills posted a game-high 26 points and 6 assists in 36 minutes as a starter, with the Spurs defeating Texas rival Dallas 109-100 on Friday.

Bogut returned to action for the Golden State Warriors earlier this week after overcoming a groin injury and the timing could not be better for his team as they look to the sixth seeding in the Western Conference with four games remaining.

While playoffs are out of the picture for Matthew Dellavedova and the Cleveland Cavaliers, it hasn’t stopped the Boomers star from continuing to post big numbers, dropping 14 points, 12 assists and 4 rebounds in Thursday’s 122-100 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Over the past six weeks we have seen a spike in production from the 23-year-old, averaging 6.6 points (at 47.3% FG and 49% 3FG) and 4.4 assists per game in 22 minutes per outing since the beginning of March.

This has helped lift his season averages to 4.7 points and 2.5 assists per game in 17 minutes over the 69 games he has played in his rookie campaign.

Jayco Australian Opals centre Marianna Tolo has produced a star performance to help her Bourges Basket team to the reach the Euroleague Women’s Semi Finals in Russia.

Advancing to the final knockout round looked improbable for the French team after suffering defeats to UMMC and USK Praha in their first two round-robin fixtures of the Final Eight tournament.

However, a 65-52 victory over Nedezhda on Thursday in their final game – companied with other favourable results – saw Bourges advance to take on Turkish giants Galatasaray on Sunday.

After posting just 2 points in the opening two games, Tolo bounced back in emphatic fashion, dropping 13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in 25 minutes to secure the win.

In men’s Euroleague competition, Boomers star Aleks Maric faces an anxious wait to see if his Lokomotiv Kuban team will reach the quarter final stage. Heading into the final Top 16 group game level on points with Galatasaray, Kuban recorded a 84-75 win over Bayern Munich.

Despite the win only a defeat for the Turkish team will see Maric join fellow Aussie Joe Ingles in the final eight. Ingles and his Maccabi Tel-Aviv team suffered a 81-76 loss to CSKA in dead-rubber, with both team already through to the next phase.

Strasbourg are top of the French league standings, following a 93-89 win over Nanterre on Tuesday, with Boomers veteran forward David Andersen posting 14 points (5-of-8 FG) and 3 rebounds in the victory that improves the team’s record to 17-9.

Belinda Snell and her CCC Polkowice team have forced a deciding game five in their Polish league semi-final series against Artego BYDG. Down 2-1, facing elimination, Snell posted 15 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in 26 minutes to ensure her team would return home for the final game of the series.

In Hungary, Abby Bishop began her post-season with a 72-57 game one quarter final win over Atomeromu on Thursday, posting 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals in 21 minutes.

The Besiktas winning streak has reached seven games, following a 71-57 victory over Anadolu on Tuesday. Australian Boomers sharp-shooter enjoyed another stellar outing, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds in the win that propels the team to fifth in the Turkish league standings.

Broekhoff has been one of the instigators of the turnaround in fortunes of the Istanbul club, averaging 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per game (many as a starter) during the winning streak.