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Mills will shine in play-offs: Longley

Triple NBA-championship winner Luc Longley expects Boomers point guard Patty Mills to thrive in the play-off atmosphere and take his game to another level.

And fellow pioneer Andrew Gaze believes having three Australians in a post-season series for the first time is a mouth-watering prospect for the Boomers' hopes of claiming a historic Olympic Games medal.

While Canberra product Mills and emerging big man Aron Baynes will have only limited roles for the San Antonio Spurs, re-energised centre Andrew Bogut will be a key cog for the Golden State Warriors in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series.

Mills is in his second straight play-off series with the Spurs, who host game one on Tuesday morning (AEST).

The 24-year-old has bided his time behind All Star guard Tony Parker, but has shown he is capable of competing in the world's premier league when given the chance. Longley knows all about winning titles, having been the starting centre for the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls for their three-peat from 1996 to 1998.

''You can't undersell the learning curve you get from a finals campaign in the NBA,'' Longley said.


''You learn five seasons worth of knowledge in three weeks. While he's not getting a lot of time, he's going against the best point guard in the world every day at practice and keeping him honest.''

Mills played only a handful of minutes as the Spurs recorded a clean sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Gaze - who won a championship ring with the Spurs in 1999 - does not expect that to change against the Warriors, but is confident Mills will make the most of any playing time he got.

''If an opportunity comes his way, he's certainly going to be ready,'' Gaze said. ''When we've had the chance to see what he can do, he doesn't lack confidence. He seems really comfortable and doesn't look out of place.

''At this stage of his career, I see nothing but upside for him.''

Mills was the main man for the Boomers at the London Olympics last year and finished as the leading scorer for the tournament.

Australia is yet to win a medal in men's basketball, but that could change as more and more players ply their trade in the NBA.

Bogut holds the key. Injuries have crippled the former No.1 draft pick in recent seasons, but a dominant 14-point, 21-rebound performance for the Warriors in their game six win against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the play-offs demonstrated his immense talent.

''I'm reluctant to compare myself to Bogut because he's a completely different animal,'' Longley said. ''He's a proper athletic presence down there and makes those other blokes look really good.

''For the Boomers to get that elusive medal, we are going to need Bogut to play like that, Patty to bring all of his new-found experience and Baynesy to bring his energy and presence around the ring.''

Bogut will be 31 at the time of the 2016 Olympics, but there are already young Australian prospects on the horizon.

Athletic guard Dante Exum, 17, has been projected as a possible ninth pick in next year's NBA draft, while 16-year-old Ben Simmons - son of NBL great Dave - is being talked about as the best US college prospect for 2015.

''If you're [Boomers coach] Andrej Lemanis, it is mouth-watering stuff with what could be possible if Bogut is available to play, along with Patty and Aron Baynes,'' Gaze said.

''There's also a heap of young kids coming through, so the future looks really bright.''