Despite the short turnaround from Game 7 against Dallas to Game 1 versus Portland, the Spurs didn’t appear to be tired in their 116-92 win. San Antonio point guard Patty Mills says playing that Game 7 actually inspired their performance against Portland.
“[In] the 7th game, we really had a lot of effort plays and energy plays that made us play the Spurs basketball that we’ve been playing all year,” Mills told The Jim Rome Show. “Basically we tried to let it flow into the first game of this series and bring that energy and passion and defensive plays that let us come away with the win in the first game.”
Mills’ third season in San Antonio has been his best. He credits it with a very productive off-season, as well as a better understanding of the Spurs culture and what they were looking for in him.
“I think this was the first year I really understood the system, the coaching staff and my teammates. I think before doing anything, before any skill set, if you understand what’s expected of you to go out there and get it done, is huge,” said the 25-year-old. “For me it was going back to the basics of getting in the best possible shape to be able to do those things, so that’s where I started. But coming in, I think it was more mindset more than anything. Coming in with a lot of confidence and knowing that you belong and going out there and leaving everything out there on the floor.”
As for his reaction to coach Popovich’s comments about him being ‘a little fat ass’ and having ‘too much junk in the trunk’ last season, the Australian doesn’t think it was too harsh.
“That’s nothing compared to what I’ve heard. I took that as a compliment, if anything,” Mills laughed. “No, it was all good, mate. Obviously I knew what I had to do make a contribution to this team and I thought that last summer was a big summer for me to correct those things and basically just put me in the best possible position to be on the team.”
The guard admitted it was a challenge giving up certain foods in the pursuit of fitness. Mills was asked if it’s easy giving up his strawberry milk?
“No, it isn’t. Neither is vegemite sandwiches, but I had to give up that, unfortunately,” Mills laughed. “I’m remembering where I’m from in Australia and I do treat myself every now and again, but it is tough, especially that strawberry milk.”