Thursday, 7 June 2012
Boomers head coach Brett Brown and star point guard Patty Mills will shift their focus to the London Olympics campaign earlier than expected after the San Antonio Spurs were bundled out of the NBA playoffs on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).
After winning the opening two matches of the western conference finals, the Spurs lost the next four games of the best-of-seven series against Oklahoma, capped by a 107-99 defeat in Oklahoma City.
Superstar Kevin Durant had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, who will play either Boston or Miami in the NBA finals.
Basketball Australia had assumed that Brown - an assistant coach with the Spurs - and Mills - a back up player - would be unavailable to play any part in the three-game series against China beginning in Perth on Saturday.
Boomers assistant coach Andrejs Lemanis has taken charge of the national team's build-up to the China series this week.
But Brown could play some role in the series which ends on June 13.
Both he and Mills - Australia's most important player in the absence of the injured Andrew Bogut - will now definitely be back with the national squad for the build-up to the final pre-Olympic home matches against Greece and Brazil in Victoria in the last week of June.
That series clashes with the best-of-seven NBA finals, which may not finish until June 27 (AEST).
Durant was the star for the Thunder in Wednesday's western conference clash and he received excellent support from Russell Westbrook (25 points).
The Thunder trailed by as much as 18 points during the first half before pulling ahead for good in the fourth quarter.
Durant grabbed the final rebound, dribbled the ball across halfcourt and raised his right fist to celebrate with a sold-out crowd.
The franchise will play for the NBA title for the first time since 1996, before relocating from Seattle.
Tony Parker had 29 points and 12 assists for San Antonio but only eight of the points and two assists came in the second half.
Tim Duncan chipped in 25 points and 14 rebounds and Stephen Jackson scored 23.
Mills did not get any playing time on Wednesday night, having joined the Spurs late in the regular season.
Game one of the NBA finals will be on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City against either Boston or Miami.
The Celtics lead their eastern series 3-2 and can earn a trip to the finals with a win at home in game six on Thursday night.
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