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.
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!”