Patty Mills once beat the Heat in the NBA Finals. He’s looking to make amends in Miami now

MIAMI (AP) — Patty Mills still remembers being upset when Miami beat San Antonio in the 2013 NBA Finals. And he knows Heat fans probably haven’t forgiven him for his role in the Spurs topping the Heat the following season in the title-series rematch.

Mills is hoping to win those fans over now.

The newest member of the Heat was with the team in Dallas on Thursday for his first game in a Miami uniform, after being signed one day earlier to a deal for the remainder of the season. At 35, he believes he can still bring plenty to a contender — which is why he wanted to be in Miami, and he already sees parallels between Heat culture and the way the Spurs operated during his nine years in San Antonio.

“I think where I’m at in my career and what I’ve already been able to accomplish, being a part of a culture like this, a winning environment, one goal in mind and understanding that the different aspects of people playing their part, playing their role to be able to achieve the goal, that’s definitely the backbone for me and what I’ve come from and what my values are,” Mills said. “I think there’s a lot of values there that realign with what the culture is here.”

Mills had a 14-point third quarter for the Spurs in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals, going 4-for-4 on 3-pointers in a 4-minute span of that period and that burst pretty much ensured that the title series wouldn’t go past that night in San Antonio. The Spurs clinched the title with a 104-87 win, the last game that LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would play together as Heat teammates.

Mills played mostly sparingly in 19 games with Atlanta off the bench this season before getting waived on Feb. 29, in time to preserve his postseason eligibility with another team. The Heat will become the fifth NBA team that Mills has played for, along with San Antonio, Portland, Brooklyn and the Hawks.

“I just think he’s another really good fit for a lot of different reasons,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before Miami’s game in Dallas on Thursday. “Stylistically, the way he plays, the way he competes. Offensively he can create space, and his catch-and-shoot game, dribble-hand-off game is something we already have in our system. And then his professionalism, his leadership, all of those things are added values to what we have going.

“And also, I’m tired of being on the other side of him being a Heat killer,” Spoelstra added. “Getting him to join us, that’s a really good thing. I have deep respect for him.”

Mills has tons of big-game experience — 95 NBA playoff games, two trips to the NBA Finals (both with the Spurs, both against Miami), four trips to the conference finals and he’s a four-time Olympian for Australia. Mills plans to be with the Boomers for a fifth Olympic appearance this summer at the Paris Games.

“You look at it for the next few months, you know what’s on the table in terms of goals to accomplish,” Mills said. “I’m super excited about putting all the eggs in one basket over here. I’m expecting there to be a huge, huge few months coming up — starting here with the Heat and then off to Paris with the Boomers.”

The Heat valued his experience and needed some more depth at point guard after Josh Richardson — who dislocated a shoulder in a game against Boston last month — opted to have surgery this week that ended any chance of him returning before next season. Miami agreed to the deal with Mills on Tuesday, the same day it was announced Richardson would have his season-ending procedure on Wednesday.

“It’s a shame,” Spoelstra said. “Some of these things happen. You can’t control it. He has a great spirit going into it, the surgery went really well. We’re looking forward to rehabbing him and getting him ready for next year.”

The Heat created roster space for Mills by waiving injured guard Dru Smith, who is rehabbing after an ACL injury. Spoelstra indicated that the Heat still have Smith in their future plans by saying the team will “still be able to help him with his rehab.”



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