Battle of the Boomer Backcourt
Heading into the festive season, there has been no shortage of action for the Aussies doing battle with their superstar counterparts.
Starting with the Milwaukee Bucks and the San Antonio Spurs, these franchises have been two of the highest ranked teams featuring an Australian on their roster (not counting the Aussie born Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers).
This is largely due to the Boomer Backcourt combination of Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills putting up some solid numbers and providing game changing impact when needed.
During the week these two athletes squared off to meet for the first time this campaign – an intense matchup decided by a single point.
But before we take a look at that specific match up we’ll stop in and see how these teams have been tracking throughout the last week.
Out of their last 10 games the Bucks have gone 6-4, yet with the majority of their losses coming to Eastern Conference rivals they have now fallen to 9th in the East and out of the playoffs spots available.
By mid week the Bucks were in the midst of a 4 game win streak. Delly played his best game of the season in this spell, providing clutch bucket after clutch bucket in a 112-103 victory against the Brooklyn Nets.
Del finished with 18 points, 6 assists and 2 rebounds in 27 minutes of play, more impressive though was that 12 out of his 18 points came in the 4th quarter.
His trademark one handed running floater shot was utilised to its full potential and although they were only up by 1 point when the Aussie entered the game it wasn’t long until Brooklyn looked dead and gone in this match-up.
The point guard showed off his wealth of experience that he has gained from his 2 consecutive finals appearances, but with the Bucks still without the teams highest average points-per-game scorer from last season via Khris Middleton.
They will need more performances like this if they are to regain their position amounts to the playoff hopefuls in the East.
The San Antonio Spurs on the other hand have advanced to a 19-5 record on the year, winning 8 games out of the last 10.
One of these defeats was at the hands of the Bulls as it saw them fall one game short of matching the NBA record for most consecutive away wins, set last season by the Golden State Warriors.
After going almost the entire season without suffering a loss at home, this streak illustrates how well rounded a team the Spurs are even after losing an all-time great in Tim Duncan.
One of the integral pieces to arguably the leagues deepest roster is our man Patty Mills, whether he is filling in for the starting roster or leading the way off the bench.
Mills consistently puts up points and gets the others around him involved.
In the game prior to the Bulls match up against the Timberwolves, the versatile Aussie guard clocked 15 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals on the way to a 105-91 victory.
Unfortunately for the Texas side, this was the last away win the Spurs would tally on their 13 game win streak.
Like having to put in an early shift the morning after the work Christmas party, the Spurs started out slow against the Bulls where they couldn’t recover from a sluggish start where Chicago managed to outlast them 95-91.
Even Patty’s burst of 16 points in 24 minutes wasn’t enough to keep their shot at NBA history alive.
Such a setback won’t play on the minds of the team as Head Coach Greg Popovich is notoriously nonchalant about the regular season.
After 20 years in the league he knows that the only thing that really matters is the playoffs.
This is a lesson the all-star Warriors learnt the hard way last time out, as the saying goes “73-9 doesn’t mean a thing without a ring“.
Considering the game between the Bucks and the Spurs was played out in Milwaukee and the Spurs most recent game against the Bulls was their first away loss of the season – it’s fairly obvious which team came away with the W in this one.
97-96 over the Bucks, the Spurs were behind the majority of the game but took control with 1 minute left on the clock when super star Kawhi Leonard starting putting his imprint on the game.
When it is all said and done, the two top performing Australians this season have been Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.
Yet neither player had the most productive game, with Delly contributing 8 points and 2 assists in 32 minutes of play, where as Mills only scored 1 points but had 5 assists during only 21 minutes of game time.
It was an exiting game to watch as young and athletic took on experienced and levelled, when Mills and Delly were on the court at the same time they were often guarding one another.
Seeing these two go head to head was something to behold and Delly even had the courtesy to reserve 1 of the 2 personal fouls he committed for Mills.
The outcome had different meanings for each roster because the Spurs were expected to win, so if the Bucks had managed to secure the win it would have acted as a statement of intent to the rest of the league.
It played out as most expected, but with these teams second and final match up of the season scheduled for the coming weeks, only a playoffs tie could get them going toe-to-toe.
It isn’t long before we have an opportunity to see these Australian dynamo’s face off once again.