With Game 3 of the NBA Finals set to tip off in a few short hours, both teams are mentally preparing for what is sure to be a battle. We all know that both squad’s Big Threes will need to be on top of their game. The real question is, what role player will step up in Miami Heat’s time of need to push them towards another victory? There are a few key players on the Heat bench that are primed for a breakout game.
One noticeable difference between the Heat’s playoff run last year and this year is the usage of Shane Battier. The key cog in securing wins over both the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, Battier seems to have been riding the pine a lot more this postseason. This is due to glaring matchup issues against teams like the Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. With Battier being forced to the bench, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has decided to use Mike Miller as another spot up shooter on the floor. Although Miller may not be as defensively acute as Battier, he makes up for it in rebounds and shooting accuracy. Miller is only averaging about 10 minutes a game, but is shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc and has provided key points for the Heat in wins over the Pacers and the Spurs. If Spoelstra decides to give Miller more minutes in this series, expect him to have a breakout game.
The Heat might have made the signing of the season by picking up Chris Andersen on a 10-day contract. Andersen has provided much needed energy and rebounding for a second unit that has at times looked dismal. Although he may be at a disadvantage defensively against skilled big man Tim Duncan, he has given the Heat a 1-2 punch in terms of crashing the glass and second chance points. His production has been vital for the Heat’s success this postseason. Expect Andersen to have a huge impact in Game 3 as well.
Any number of the Heat’s role players could step up tonight versus the Spurs, but I suspect both Miller and Andersen will have a huge impact on tonight’s game. Given the amount of extra minutes coach Spoelstra has allotted them, they will both need to step up when their number is called.