The release of Mike Miller prior to the start of the 2014 NBA regular season was a shock for most Miami Heat fans, and more specifically Heat players. Miller’s role for the Heat over the last few seasons was invaluable, especially in the postseason, where his hot 3-point shooting and stellar rebounding was vital to the Heat’s back-to-back championships.
Now that Miller is gone, many have questioned who would ultimately fill his role in the lineup once the playoffs started for the Heat. This player would need to shoot well from beyond the arc, but also provide quality aggression on the boards and defend well. Surprisingly enough, Rashard Lewis has evolved into that player.
Miller averaged 3.4 PPG and 1.9 RPG on 47 percent shooting from beyond the arc last postseason with the Heat, while Lewis is currently averaging 4.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG on 33 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Outside of the shooting percentage from beyond the arc, Lewis has also contributed in ways that aren’t shown on the box score.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, it was Lewis’s defense on David West that ultimately help shut down the Indiana Pacers‘offense in the waning minutes of several crucial games. Lewis’s ability to make shots from beyond the arc will be crucial in stretching out the San Antonio Spurs‘ defense when they attempt to pack the paint with frontcourt players.
Lewis has only averaged 15 minutes per game throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs, but expect that to rise in the Finals, as the Heat will most likely put Lewis alongside Chris Bosh as their starting frontcourt. Lewis’s ability to guard larger frontcourt players will be crucial in the matchups against Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, and Tiago Splitter.
Lewis may not be exactly like Miller, but he has the tangibles to be a major factor to tip this Finals series in favor of the Heat.