Miller may have saved best for last
MIAMI — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra only had planned to give Mike Miller a few minutes.
Miller ended up giving him the game of his life.
The battered Miami guard, who can barely walk due to his injuries, scored a stunning 23 points in 23 minutes off the bench in Thursday night’s 121-106 win over Oklahoma City, which wrapped up the NBA Finals 4-1. He hit 7 of 8 from three-point range, falling just one deep ball shy of a single-game Finals record.
“I don’t know how this guy was playing,” Spoelstra said of Miller, who primarily has been bothered by a back injury. “I literally only planned on playing him three or four minutes tonight. That’s all I thought he could go. Dwyane (Wade) got in foul trouble, then (Miller) started knocking down threes, so we left him in there. It was pure adrenaline and competitive will.”
Now the question is: Will the most memorable game of Miller’s career be his last one?
Miller has been bothered by numerous injures the past two seasons. That’s why Miller, a 12-year man from Florida, doesn’t deny he might retire this summer.
“I’ve got to make the best decision, not only for the organization, for the players that work every night, for the Arisons (the family that owns the team), who believed in me, for (Heat president Pat) Riley for bringing me here, and then my family,” he said. “Just got to make sure it’s the best one.
“If it is (Miller’s last game), I couldn’t picture a better point to go out on top like this, as a champion. But we’ll see. We’ll visit the doctors and see what parts work and go from here.”
Miller said he never envisioned having the kind of night he did while going through warmups. But after Miller came in with 4:01 left in the first quarter for Wade, who had picked up a second foul, he exploded.
Miller went 2 of 2 on three-pointers the rest of the quarter. In the second quarter, he again went 2 of 2 from long range, giving him 12 points at halftime.
In the second half, Miller went 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. When he departed with 4:49 left in the game, he got a huge ovation and a big hug from teammate James Jones.
“A lot of us dreamed of these situations,” Miller said. “For me, coming from South Dakota and having an opportunity to play in two NBA Finals now is a dream come true. I wasn’t going to miss that for anything in the world.”
Unlike last year, when the Heat lost 4-2 to Dallas, this was a Heat Finals win. But it remains to be seen if Miller will be around for a possible repeat.
Miller signed a five-year, $29 million contract before last season that has three years and $18.6 million remaining on it.
It’s possible the Heat could release Miller due to the NBA’s amnesity rule, which would save them money for salary cap and luxury tax purposes. Miller, though, would get all the money that is due to him.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Miller said. “I’m just going to enjoy this right now, and we’ll readdress that when the time comes.”
Whether Miller retires or not, he figures to enjoy what happened Thursday for a very long time.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com
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