As the Miami Heat are resting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers with minor injuries, a familiar face has stepped up and brought some excitement to South Beach. Mike Miller has always stayed ready and is now making his case for more minutes in the 2013 NBA playoffs.
Last season, Miller was limping into the playoffs and played with a bad back through all of postseason. Naturally, he saw his minutes decrease. He was only able to play in short stints, after which he would exit the game and would sometimes even struggle to sit on the Heat bench. It got so bad that he was even contemplating having potentially career-ending back surgery, after Miami took down the championship.
Miller skipped surgery and remained hopeful that his back could recover in the offseason. While he is ailing most of the time, it was the arrival of Ray Allen that essentially shut Miller and his sharp-shooting talents out of the rotation.
In the final stretch of the regular season, the NBA champions have practically nothing left to play for. That provides the reserves with the unique opportunity to make their case for a rotation spot in the playoffs and extended postseason minutes. Miller is certainly making his case.
Miller has made 51 appearances this season, playing 13.6 minutes per game – his lowest since joining the Heat. However, in his last five games, Miller has been filling in for Wade and playing 25 minutes per game and shooting at a 42.3 percent clip from beyond the 3-point line.
In Miami’s recent loss against the New York Knicks, Miller played 37 minutes, dropped 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. He even had a put-back dunk for good measure, which instantly lifted James and Wade off the bench to applaud their teammate.
Norris Cole will most likely see his minutes decrease in the playoffs, just like he did last year. That opens up the door for Miller to contribute and we all know he is still capable of erupting from beyond the arc.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis