Mike Miller gets minutes in advance of playoffs
One of the benefits of the Miami Heat resting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the end of the season has been working Mike Miller into the rotation.
Based on his recent play, Miller has solidified his standing as the Heat’s sixth man going into the playoffs.
“We’re finally starting to see some of the things that we’ve always liked about Mike,” said coach Erik Spoelstra, with the Heat sitting out their regulars in Tuesday’s 78-66 loss to the Celtics, with the Wizards up next on Thursday night in the regular-season finale. “With guys out, we’ve been able to bring the ball to him a lot more and not just for him to run to the corner.
“We’ve had calls for him where there is the responsibility for him to create shots for the team. And I think that’s great for him.”
While Miller was force-fed into Tuesday’s starting lineup with James and Wade held out, Spoelstra has mostly reserved him for the type of role he will hold in the playoffs.
“You see the versatility he brings,” Spoelstra said. “He’s not just a spot-up 3-point shooter. He can put the ball on the floor, be a timely offensive rebounder. He makes passes on catch-and-shoots. He brings another dimension to our game that is not simply pick-and-roll. That’s a valuable piece.”
For his part, Miller has embraced the opportunity.
“I’m getting there,” Miller said of coming around from injuries. “I’m getting more comfortable with the conditioning, which is the most important part.”
He is looking for another significant run Thursday in Washington.
“I need the rhythm,” he said. “I need the conditioning.”
Similarly, forward Shane Battier, also injected into Tuesday’s starting lineup, has embraced his minutes in these closing games.
“Any confidence that we can gain from these minutes can be beneficial,” he said. “We know in the playoffs where the bread is buttered, the best players. It’s the rest of our jobs to come in and play hard and play defense and rebound.
“We’re going to do that, but it feels nice to make a few shots and get that confidence back up.”