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Mike Miller helped LeBron James win his first NBA title.

Game Five should be renamed, “The Mike Miller Show,”  or  at least if you’re from South Dakota. The former Mitchell, South Dakota native saved his best effort for last.

Miller said after the game, “I’m just glad they didn’t take me out back to the barn and put me down.” He has dealt with injuries (a bad back, bad knees, and a sports hernia), and talked retirement. Well, this would be the best way to go out. He just played his best game of his life with an NBA championship on the line. Now, he is an NBA champion.

Miller played 23 minutes in Game Five, whereas he only played a total of 21 minutes in the first four NBA Finals games. Miller made seven three-pointers in Game Five (1 short of Ray Alllen’s NBA Finals record of eight), and finished with 23 points off the bench for the Miami Heat. He went seven of eight from beyond the arc. In fact, he actually hit his first three point field goal in Game Five.

Here are all seven of Miller’s three pointers during Game Five:

In the first four games, Miller scored eight points, didn’t make a three and made just two field goals.

Miller’s three pointer in the third quarter that put the Heat up 88 to 63 might have been the biggest or when he knocked back to back threes at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 101 to 74 lead. He also got some huge rebounds, and dove for balls out of bounds. He wanted that championship. His put aside his pain for greatness.

Mike Miller has had to battle plenty of injuries on his way to first NBA title in his 11 years pro.

Miller, is a former two-time South Dakota state basketball champion at Mitchell High School, played in an NCAA championship for Florida, played in two NBA Finals (one won and lost one), won a NBA rookie of the year and an NBA sixth man award. He is NBA journeyman as he has played for Orlando, Memphis, Minnesota, Washington, and now, Miami.

Miller once averaged 18 points a game during a season for Memphis, but has seen his time in Miami in become ravaged by injuries. In two years in Miami, he played 80 out of 148 games, and saw his shooting percentage take a dip. However, with an NBA championship on the court, he wanted to be part of every second of what would be his first championship.

Miller fought. I think that is what will be best remembered for the kid once nicknamed “Skinny.” I remember when he picked up his second foul of Game 5, I remember him seeing Coach Erik Spoelstra signal for Norris Cole, but Miller said, I want to stay in this game. He did. He would pick up his fourth foul of the game in the second quarter, but showed he wanted to grind it out.

I can only imagine his teammates have the greatest respect for him. Juwan Howard helped him get up when he got down, and he got ovations from the crowd when he came out. He has been through it all. He made the playoffs in Memphis, lost early, endured losing season in Minnesota, and Orlando, been to championships and lost, but now, the greatest feeling in the world, he is a World Champion. He has that coveted ring.

In fact, it is even sweeter because today is daughter, Jaelyn turns one after recovering from having surgery to remove four holes in her heart. (Check out Gregg Doyel’s article on Miller, worth the read: (http://www.cbssports.com/nba/story/19400661/if-this-is-it-for-ultratough-miller-what-a-way-to-go)

Will he call it quits on top, or will he come back for more? Either way, another chapter of the legend of Mike Miller grew on Thursday night.

In the end, Mike Miller can say, “It all hurts so good!”

It’s the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Miami Heat for all the marbles. A world championship is on the line. The NBA couldn’t have dreamt up a more sexy match-up for the finals.

LeBron James is 27 years old. He a three time NBA regular season MVP. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is 23 years old. He is a three time scoring champion.

Two of the NBA’s bright young stars are on the big stage and have a chance to win their first rings to help cement their legacies in NBA history.

For the Miami Heat, it is their second trip to the Finals in as many seasons after the Big Three came to South Beach and promised not one, two, but as many as eight championships. (I don’t think LeBron was thinking of Eastern Conference championships, either. He has two with the Heat, and one with the Cavs.)

Miami got up 2 to 0 on Boston, then fell behind 3 to 2 before winning the next two games to advance to the NBA Finals. Not to mention, it was all behind the King or Chosen One, LeBron James. James played with that look in his eyes. That look of a champion.

If you like James or am a hater, either way, you had to be impressed by his historic game 6 performance where he had 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. His game 7 wasn’t too shabby either. He has silenced his critics for now. However, were are on the big stage now, the NBA Finals. Last year, LeBron couldn’t finish, he would play well for three quarters and disappear. It was like a magician’s act. Is this his time?

You can’t give James all the credit either. Before Game 6, people were questioning James, Erik Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade, and the Miami Heat. Is James capable of bringing the Heat back? What if they lose to the Celtics, is Spoelstra done? What’s wrong with Wade? Will Chris Bosh play again?

All of those questions got answered. James had two big games to finish the aging Celtics. I have to think his three pointer in Game 7, which felt like it was from half court, was the momentum killer. Don’t forget Bosh’s huge defense and three pointers in Game 7 either or Shane Battier’s performance.

So, can the Heat win a ring now?

Out in the wild west, as Garth Brooks once sang, the Oklahoma City Thunder are rolling. They are formerly the Seattle SuperSonics, and are led by Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. In fact, Westbrook and Harden are 23 and 22 years old. So, could this be the start of a dynasty in Oklahoma City? Don’t forget role players like Serge Ibaka (I-block-a), Kendrick Perkins, Derek Fisher (he wants to one up Kobe Bryant and get his sixth ring).

For the Thunder, I am most intrigued by is the job that head coach Scott Brooks is doing. His team was down 2 to 0 to the San Antonio Spurs. They had won twenty games in a row. They’ve won championships. Yet, defying odds, the Thunder hand the Spurs four consecutive losses. The Thunder got nasty on the Spurs. Now, can they get nasty again on the Miami Heat?

All I can say is that this NBA Finals is going to be a heck of a series. Television ratings will skyrocket. Having two of the game’s best young stars in the Finals will make people excited about the NBA again. I know I will be in front the television screen every time these teams square off for the NBA finals!

Hey guys and girls, it has been a while since I’ve blogged, and I thought I share my thoughts about what’s been going on in the sports world the last few days.

Well, first, the NBA Finals are tonight in Game 5 and the series is tied 2-2 after Dallas came back to win Game 4 against the Heat. In the last game, the Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki battled a 101 degree fever and still led the team to the win. However, it was the bench and Tyson Chandler that really stepped up. Chandler was huge on the offensive glass, and scored key baskets down the stretch. Deshawn Stephenson had three three pointers, and 11 points off the bench. What did he do yesterday? He called out Lebron. C’mon man. Just play the game. Jason Terry also stepped huge and will have to do again tonight.

More on Lebron. He didn’t show up last game with only eight points. As far as I am concerned, maybe he is tired. We’ll see if shows up tonight and gets the Heat the win.

The game is at eight Central time, and nine Eastern time on ABC. Be sure to watch.

Second, I am not much of an hockey fan, but the Boston Bruins have outscored Vancouver 12-1 the last two games and evened the series. Wow. That’s all.

Third, Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State program continues to go down a bad road. Who’s gonna be the quarterback now that Pryor hopes to be drafted in the supplemental draft? Braxton Miller? He’s young, but has a lot of potential. I’m starting to believe my Wolverines actually can beat their most hated rivals next November. That would be fun and awesome.

Fourth, keep reading my blog, follow me on Twitter @samtastad, and I’ll leave you with some cute kid videos that SI Hot Clicks featured that are just awesome.

I’ll blog tomorrow. Be sure to come back! And be sure to watch the Mavs-Heat tonight! I promise it won’t let you down.

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 23:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks goes up for a shot against Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 23, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It’s a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals when the Mavericks went up 2-0, then
faltered in six games losing the next four. It was none the less Dwyane Wade’s
heroics and game changing plays that won the series for the Heat. Wade was the
Finals MVP. He had Shaquille O’Neal, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, and Udonis
Haslem.

Nowitzki had Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Devin Harris, Erick Dampier, Josh
Howard as his sidekicks.

Now the two teams have still the same players, but many new faces as
well.

For the Heat, they are finally living up to the hype when James and Bosh
announced they were South Beach bound. In Miami, Wade has a LeBron James, Chris
Bosh that make up the Big Three in Miami. Other sidekicks are Mike Miller, Mike
Bibby, Mario Chalmers, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgaukas, and James Jones. Haslem
is back for the Heat again, and this time Dampier is playing for the Heat
too.

Each game a different Heat player stepped up in leading them to victory over
the Bulls. Bosh had great games in game two and three. In Game 5, Miller stepped
up like the player the Heat thought they were getting, but injuries got to
Miller during the season. Haslem had a solid Game 2, and gave the Heat a solid
low post.

For the Mavericks, it’s been all about Nowitzki during the playoffs. Nowitzki
has played re-energized, and hungry for a title as he gets older, but has shown
that he can still play and is on a mission. His most notable game was in Game 5
against the Thunder when he had 40 points to lead the Mavericks to a huge
comeback and win in overtime.

// Nowitzki still has Terry to kick it out too on the wing and to get buckets,
hustle, and great defense out of. Nowitzki also has veteran Jason Kidd is
playing great basketball as Kidd is re energized and his game has soared during
the playoffs. Kidd’s three in overtime in Game 5 against the Thunder was huge
for his confidence. Tyson Chandler, and Shawn Marion have also stepped up and
been huge for the Mavericks. Other playmakers to watch for the Mavericks
are point guard Jose Barea, who has filled in great when Kidd is on the bench.
DeShawn Stephenson, Brendan Haywood, and Peja Stojakovic all have stepped up as
well.

Another huge aspect has been the jobs of Erik Spoelstra with the Heat and
Rick Carlisle with the Mavericks. Both Spoelstra and Carlisle have instilled
leadership into their teams, and given their teams the correct game plans and
motivation to beat their opponents in these playoffs.

Anyway, here are five keys for the Dallas Mavericks to have a successful
series and to beat the Heat:

First, don’t give up in the fourth quarter.

This is the most important thing the Mavericks can do. They didn’t against
Portland, Los Angeles, or Oklahoma City, and they definitely can’t against Miami
because Wade, and LeBron are just too good. Remember Game four against the
Thunder, the Mavericks were down 99-84. I’ll admit, I shut the TV off, but I
shouldn’t of.  The Mavericks were huge in the final five minutes and in overtime
as they fought right back into it and won. They made Durant and Westbrook
uncomfortable. Exactly what Nowitzki and company will have to do to the Heat.
They’ll have to bring that extra guy to put a arm in Wade, James, or Bosh’s face
or cover the lane extra tight with big bodies like Chandler, Marion, and
Haywood.

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Also, In this series, they won’t be facing inexperience in Durant and
Westbrook. Wade and LeBron have ice in their veins.Start strong in games and
don’t falter when games get tight. Play smart offense and strong defense.

Second, get to the free throw line.

Dirk Nowitzki was excellent at making free throws against
the Thunder. He shot 97% from the line in that series. He was 24 for 24 in Game
1 when he dropped 48 points. In the series, he went 59 for 62. That’s incredible
to say the least. Also, in that series the Mavericks did a great job of getting
Westbrook, Harden, Perkins, Ibaka in foul trouble. Do that to the Heat early on
in each game in the series.

Third, don’t give Lebron, Wade, or Bosh get open looks and play up on
them.

Any one of the Big Three, Wade, LeBron, or Bosh are scary in the open floor.
Whether it takes double one of them or just playing up and in their face every
possession and the whole game, that is what it take to stop them and get wins in
this series for the Mavericks. The Heat are 40-5 when the Wade, LeBron, and Bosh
score at least 70+ points. Don’t let them do that and the Mavericks will give
themselves chances to win this series.

Fourth, make Jason Kidd  a factor.

Kidd was the spark in overtime with his go ahead three pointer in Game 4
against the Thunder. In the last series, he averaged 9.6 points per game,
8.6 assists per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 3.4 steals per game, and just 2.0
turnovers a game. Kidd is getting old, but can still contribute on the floor.
His defense was also a huge factor for the Mavericks as he guarded Westbrook and
limited him to bad shooting games. If Kidd can keep this up, he can be a force
and another weapon for Nowitzki to use to beat Miami.

Fifth, spread the ball around the perimeter, and
make three point shots.

The Mavericks have plenty of three point shooters. Jason Terry,Jason Kidd,
J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic, and Dirk Nowitzki. Spread the ball around and use
it as a counterattack when you cannot get inside the lane.

There you have it! Game One tips off tonight in Miami at eight. It should be
a thrilling ride for both teams, and fun to watch.