Miller to dress for Heat for first time

When Mike Miller arrived for work Monday night, the Miami Heat

had a gift waiting in his locker: A jersey.

Miller was in uniform for the first time this season when the

Heat faced the Dallas Mavericks, though coach Erik Spoelstra said

the swingman was not guaranteed of getting minutes. Miller sat out

the first 29 games while recovering from a broken thumb and torn

ligament in his right hand — the one he shoots with.

Spoelstra and Heat president Pat Riley met Monday afternoon to

decide if the time was right to let Miller dress.

”We both decided that he’s ready to suit,” Spoelstra said.

Ordinarily, the Heat prefer to have injured players go through

one full practice before returning to the lineup. Because Miami

won’t have one of those until Wednesday, Miller got the

go-ahead.

”It’s very encouraging,” Heat forward LeBron James said. ”Not

only for us, but for him personally. I know he’s been really

excited to try to get back healthy and get back playing with this

team. We’ve been waiting for him.”

For his career, Miller has averaged 13.7 points on 46 percent

shooting, 41 percent shooting from 3-point range. He was second in

the NBA in 3-point shooting last season, making 48 percent, and

signed with Miami this past summer.

Miller likely will be used in short stints for the next few

games, especially since there isn’t a glaring need for help right

now in the Miami rotation. The Heat entered Monday on a 12-game

winning streak, and Miller himself said he might have to sacrifice

some minutes for now to keep things rolling.

”I’d like to play,” Miller said before Spoelstra and Riley

made their decision. ”But I also understand the big picture.”

Miller was hurt Oct. 20 when his hand got tangled in James’

jersey during a drill in practice and had surgery two days later.

He has been shooting for several weeks, has been working on his

conditioning throughout the recovery and was cleared for contact

last week – about a month ahead of the schedule originally

expected.

Miller will go through a workout Tuesday, then practice

Wednesday before the team flies to Phoenix for a Thursday game

against the Suns. He’s been clamoring to play since last week and

hoped to make his debut last Friday when the Heat visited the New

York Knicks.

”Sometimes as a player you feel ready before everyone else

feels you’re ready. … Mike is ready,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade

said.