USA vs. Australia: Patrick Mills Needs Game of His Life to Give Aussies a Chance

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: (EDITORS NOTE: A polarizing filter was used for this image.) Patrick Mills of Australia lays up in the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match between Australia and Spain on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Australia's Patty Mills may be a point guard, but he's hasn't exactly patterned his game after Steve Nash.

The shoot-first floor general shoots first for a reason: He's awfully good at it. 

That's the same reason the San Antonio Spurs acquired him midway through last season and re-signed him this summer. Mills can score from mid-range and the perimeter alike, and he's not shy about doing so.

Nor should he be.

On a team like Australia, his instincts are all the more important. He's one of the squad's few reliable scoring options and the one best-suited to taking on a roster of All-Stars like the United States.

Through five preliminary games, Mills has averaged over 20 points per contest and led his team to three consecutive victories, including a 82-80 squeaker against Russia. Mills hit a game-winning three in that game just seconds after missing a previous attempt.

Remember, he's not shy.

With fortitude like that, the Australians have an outside shot at giving the United States a run for its money.

Similarly-situated teams might call in sick for a game like this, but Mills is a different breed. The precocious 23-year-old never met a challenge he didn't like, and his overwhelming odds against Team USA should be no different.

Mills has struggled a bit with his shot of late, making just under 42 percent of his field-goal attempts. Of course, given that 39 of his 96 attempts were from behind the arc, that efficiency isn't as bad as it looks.

With Australia relying upon him so heavily for its medal hopes, Mills doesn't exactly have the luxury of being choosy when it comes to his shot selection.

He'll have to take his most difficult shots yet against Team USA.

With Chris Paul harassing him in the backcourt and a defensive rotation as quick as any he's faced in these Summer Olympics, Mills will have to take some contested shots. And, he'll have to make them.

Still, there's some infinitesimally small reason for hope.

If the United States has shown any weakness, it has been defensive apathy. Argentina proved that it could make enough three-pointers to play a half of neck-and-neck basketball against Team USA. If Mills gets hot and stays that way for 40 minutes, Australia could at least make a game of it.

That's putting a lot of pressure on his broad shoulders, but he wouldn't have it ant other way.

Patty Mills needs to have the game of his life, and chances are he believes he can do just that.