For a lot of Basketball fans out there, we held hope that Utah could push the Warriors. By looking at a 4-0 score line you’d think it was a little one sided. But this Utah team battled. Some Aussies called them “Our” Utah team, with fellow Aussies Joe Ingles and Dante Exum playing a big part in their playoff success.
Utah had plenty of injuries throughout the season. It’s crazy to think this team still managed 51 wins. A healthy Jazz outfit could see them up around the 57-win mark next season.
Joe Ingles had a phenomenal year, shooting 44% from the 3 during the regular season. There were even calls for him to participate in the 3-point shootout. After his Rio performance, no one thought this type of season from him was possible. Joe didn’t seem like himself in Rio, but this NBA season he was determined and was brilliant at the 2 position. His pesky defence and ability to stretch the floor and facilitate for his team mates on the offence end of the floor was one of the reasons they got this deep.
Many teams against Golden State would give in falling behind by 20 early. Utah didn’t. Dante Exum was brought in regularly due to his length and ability to create a change of pace down the offensive end of the floor. We were given a sneak preview of what he is going to be capable of after a healthy off season in 2017/18.
In the absence of George Hill in Game 4, Dante was brilliant. He logged 32 minutes (well above his career average) scoring 15 points for the match. A lot of what Dante and Joe do though for this team doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but doesn’t go unnoticed. Their efforts defensively, with Joe smothering JJ Reddick in the first round and Dante guarding Klay and Steph this series, showed they’re both up to this level.
The sky is the limit for Dante. He’s coming off a serious ACL injury that wiped him out of the entire last season. What we saw in Game 4 out of him has to excite a lot of Australian basketball fans, as well as the Utah coaching staff, knowing now what he is capable of producing on a nightly basis when given good minutes. Dante will be 22 years old next season, he has himself some kind of future!
Our solo Aussie hope now lies with Patty Mills. Patty will now play a huge role with no Tony Parker, and has seen his minute’s increase already in the last couple of games without TP in the line-up. He’s playing with a lot of confidence, so here’s hoping our “Bala” can get the Spurs over the line to face the Warriors in the conference finals!