Mike Miller could shoot Heat to top again
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI — When Erik Spoelstra saw Mike Miller for the first time during the summer, it took the Miami Heat coach a minute to figure out what was different about him.
“You forget he’s 6-8 because he’s actually standing upright,” Spoelstra said of Miller.
Miller no longer is hunched over like an octogenarian hobbling in pain, which is how he looked and felt last season, especially during the playoffs, because of a hernia and a sore back and ankle.
Miller needed assistance from teammates to get off the bench and up from the floor when he went down. He barely could bend over to tie his shoes.
That makes his Game 5 performance in the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder all the more remarkable. Playing in pain, Miller was 7-for-8 on three-point attempts and scored 23 points — one of four Heat players with at least 20 — as Miami won the championship with a 121-106 victory against the Thunder.
When Spoelstra watched Game 5 on video for the first time in late summer, Miller’s performance gave him goosebumps.
Miller watched Game 5 with his family a few days after the Finals — because when a shooter is in that kind of zone, the memories of it are hazy.
“I will probably watch it again once we get cranked up to get my juices flowing,” Miller said. “I also want to put it behind me, because I know I have stuff ahead of me.”
To get back to being healthy, Miller didn’t pick up a basketball for more than two months after the Finals. He adopted a rehab program developed by Barth Green, a neurologist who is a spine and back expert. Miller worked on strengthening his core.
“It’s just strengthening your core, back and hips. It’s all about having stability in your framework,” Miller said. “It was the first time in my career — high school, college, all the way to the NBA — that I’ve actually taken a step away from basketball for a long period of my time. I’ve learned sometimes it’s more important to rest and listen to your body.”
He couldn’t afford to … [For more on Mike Miller, finally healthy, could shoot Heat to top again, click here.]