The Energizer Bunny has got nothing on Patty Mills.
The 33-year-old guard went to Cleveland over the weekend to participate in the All-Star 3-Point Shooting Contest. He didn’t get out of the first round, but that’s okay. It was his first trip to the All-Star Game in any capacity over the course of his 13-year career. In fact, this is his best year of basketball, what with Australia’s first medal in men’s basketball and a series of personal bests in the first 59 games of the Nets season. Moreover, he has missed both the injury and illness bugs that have laid so many of his teammates low. He’s only taken one game off for a much-needed rest.
“Personally for me, these next three days, I’ll get some good R&R. Been going since the Tokyo Olympics, probably before then to prepare for it, and obviously [this season] with Brooklyn, so it’ll be good to get some downtime to recharge the batteries and reset and look forward to a big push down the stretch of the season,” Mills told reports Saturday. “As far as the team standpoint, it’s go time.”
Go time indeed. The Nets have 23 games left. As things currently stand, Brooklyn is in eighth place and would need to win the play-in tournament to qualify for the post-season. Kevin Durant will be back and Ben Simmons will make his Nets debut sometime after the All Star break ends with a game vs. the Celtics Thursday night at Barclays. As of now, Kyrie Irving can play in only eight games the rest of the way and only one of the last eight regular season games. None of it ideal, particularly with what was expected.
Still, where would the Nets be without Mills who has filled in for unvaccinated Irving and the departed James Harden, mentored some of the young guys and generally kept things going. That optimism extends to the Nets final push. He likes their chances, likes who they’ve picked up at the trade deadline. And not just Simmons, but Seth Curry and Andre Drummond as well.
“I think being able to add the pieces we’ve added, getting people back from injury, this is who we got,” Mills said. “I keep talking about the vibe around the locker room and everyone enjoying each other’s presence. … You can feel it in the locker room and that’s gonna carry us a long way, I believe, if we can stay tight as a group.
“It’s gonna take all of us to get the job done. It’s a massive push for us coming up.”
As for his debut on All-Star Weekend, Mills was his usual upbeat self, happy to have competed even if the end result wasn’t what he and his many fans had hoped for.
“I had a ton of fun out there. It was a different experience being in an individual event. I absolutely loved it,” Mills said. “It’s an opportunity to lock in and see how many you make. I had a blast out there.
“To be out there with the other guys, all the great shooters from around the league, it was fun. This being my first All-Star Weekend, I really enjoyed just seeing what it’s all about. It’s taken 13 years for me to come and check it out, and I’m glad I did it.”
- Patty Mills ready for massive second-half Nets push: ‘It’s go time’ - Peter Botte - New York Post
- The Nets still think they can salvage a ring from the chaos - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News