Decision to start Miller pays off for Heat
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
SAN ANTONIO – Mike Miller took only one shot – a three-pointer, of course – in Game 4.
But Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to insert Miller into the starting lineup in place of forward Udonis Haslem accomplished its desired effect against the San Antonio Spurs.
Miller’s ability to make three-pointers forced the Spurs to pay more attention to Miller on the perimeter, allowing more room for Heat stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to maneuver and clearer lanes to the basket.
James, Wade and Bosh combined for 85 points in Miami’s 109-93 victory on Thursday as the Heat found a comfort zone with their smaller lineup.
“It was about as impactful an 0-for-1 game as you can have in the Finals,” Spoelstra said. “And Mike knows what he brings to the table for us – so many things on both ends of the court, and each series is different. It presents its own challenges. This we feel is the best move for now against the Spurs.
“But Mike does provide spacing, whether he’s shooting the three or not, and defensively his ability to do multiple things with us is key.”
Spoelstra didn’t reveal his starting lineup for Game 4 until 45 minutes before tip-off, and he declined to show his hand more than 24 hours before tip-off of Game 5 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC). With the series tied 2-2, it’s clear Spoelstra likes a lineup with Miller on the floor.
In 79 minutes with Miller on the court, the Heat have outscored the Spurs 180-149, and in 113 minutes with Miller on the bench, the Spurs have outscored the Heat 197-161.
“We just think it important for us right now with this series and this matchup. That’s why we did it,” Spoelstra said. “The score did not indicate the impact that we thought it had on how we want to play. … The most important thing is getting to our game in this matchup. We felt that was the best decision for it.”
Miller is no stranger to big games and big moments. In Game 5 of Miami’s title-clinching … [For more on Decision to start Mike Miller paying off for Miami Heat, click here.]