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NBA Finals: Mike Miller helped Heat to first championship in Big Three Era

Jun 22, 2012, 12:27 AM EST

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five Getty Images

The Miami Heat stars were excellent on Thursday night on the way to LeBron James winning his first NBA championship, but there shouldn’t have been as many people as there were who honestly thought James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh wouldn’t be able to step up when the game was on the line. There obviously were many people continuing the “not-clutch” narrative, but most fans of the game figured that the stars would be spectacular — for both Miami and the Oklahoma City Thunder — in this year’s NBA Finals.

It wasn’t the stars, then, but rather the role players who were expected to be key in the seven-game series — and the Thunder entered the series with a considerable (perceived) advantage in that department when looking at the two team’s tale of the tape.

Instead, however, it was the Heat’s secondary stars that did more than anyone could expect as Miami picked up its first championship since the Big Three Era began, winning Game 5 121-106.

Shane Battier, Thabo Sefolosha, Mario Chalmers and  Nick Collison all had big games in the Finals while stepping in to the spotlight, but it was Mike Miller who surprised those in the stands on Thursday night. Miller had basically been written off by almost everyone after being ineffective for the majority of his Miami stint — he was averaging a measly 4.4 points per game up until Game 5 — but he became a key player for the new world champions in the series-clincher.

The South Dakota native has dealt with a multitude of injuries as of late, but came through in the clutch on Thursday night with 23 points after knocking down seven of his eight three-point attempts off the bench. On a team full of players searching for redemption, it was great to see Miller show he can contribute when called upon after looking as though he was headed toward an early retirement not long ago.

Miller wasn’t the only Heat role player that found success this series, though, as the earlier-mentioned duo of Chalmers and Battier were overtly instrumental in helping the Heat to earlier victories in games that likely would have gone the other way if they didn’t do what they did.

For those that somehow weren’t paying attention until Thursday night, it’d be very difficult to discount Battier’s shooting — he made 15 of his 26 3-point attempts in the Finals after shooting worse than 34 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season — and Chalmers’ showing shan’t be overlooked with a great showing in Game 4 (25 points) after scoring a grand total of five in Games 2 and 3. Chalmers and Battier obviously weren’t bad on Thursday night either, of course, as Battier hit another three 3-pointers to go with stellar defense while Chalmers had 10 points and seven assists himself.

In a game so often said to be dominated by stars, that was again the case in this year’s NBA Finals … but they weren’t the only players that played great amazing minutes on the big stage. The superstars in this series (LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) deserve as much credit as they’re going to be given over the next few weeks, but all great players need good role players around them — and the lesser-known members of Miami showed during this series that they can’t be forgotten.

  1. miamatt - Jun 22, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    What an unbelievable performance in the biggest game of his career.

    Hard to imagine he’ll be back with the Heat next year, but he made his mark on this championship run.

    (finally)
    It’s Miller Time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. reddolfan66 - Jun 22, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Congrats to the Miami Heat 2012 NBA Champions!!!! Choke on that haters!!!!

    • polegojim - Jun 22, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Haters? NOT…. Until this year, we were ‘Realists’.

      That said – Awesome win and many Congrats for delivering as they should have!

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    Congratulations LeBron Ramon James

    Definition of M-V-P

    Congratulations to Spo and DWade and Riles. Congrats to the whole team. Congrats to all the diehards who’ve been behind the Heat all these years, sticking up for them against a tidal wave of A-Holes on this site and elsewhere.

    And thank you to Tampjoey and Cantonbound13 and Mr Wright, and Giants guy, and Dan Gilbert, and all the rest of you idiots. You’ve helped make this season and their championship even sweeter.

    So freaking happy right now. Way to go Heat!

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 22, 2012 at 7:32 AM

      *

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 22, 2012 at 9:21 AM

        Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
        *

      • truthhurtstoo - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:12 PM

        pfft *

  4. mikejd12 - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    All the haters can suck it!!!! 4 in a row!! Against a team they said was suppose to smash us.

    • duane888 - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      They all said it didn’t matter who Miami played in the West, San Antone or OKC, bcuz Miami had no chance of winning. From the start i said Miami in 6. Guess i was wrong.

    • rooney24 - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      Holy revisionist history, Batman! Who said the Thunder were supposed to smash the Heat? I seem to recall most people picking the Heat to win. Don’t claim the underdog card for a team that was in the Finals last year and had people picking them to win this year.

      By the way, unless you were in uniform, it should say “smash the Heat” in your post, not “smash us”.

      • rooney24 - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM

        And, congrats to the Heat. LeBron really stepped up and they got great contributions from the role players. Mike Miller has been one of the most inconsistent players, both for health and production, but he was on an insane hot streak last night.

  5. finsfan71 - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    A big shout out to the refs. I don’t mean the referees, I mean the Cuban refs in Little Havana partying hard.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 22, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      And in Hialeah!!!

      And to all the haters from Miami, vayanse pa la pinga!!

      CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. lyndseymarieee - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    Miller did amazing but that was painful to watch. The poor guy could barely move.

    • bougin89 - Jun 22, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      Well, he could only barely move when it was convenient, I think he might have been churching it up just a little but their is no question he was on fire. Even if he was 100% healthy it would be incredible to shoot the way he did.

  7. ishwishfish - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Congrats Mike, go Heat, go Gators!

  8. lgwelsh1 - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:36 AM

    Miller, that’s a guy who left it all on the court. What a performance!

  9. dgbk - Jun 22, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Shooters can always shoot though cliche Miller performance proved that. He looked like everything hurt when he will run or play defense. Pass him the ball for a long three look like nothing was wrong… he played his heart out.

  10. badintent - Jun 22, 2012 at 3:04 AM

    I think LBJ got 6 of his assists throwing the rock to my man Miller. He looked like Steve Kerr or John Paxton raining jumpers. In the Finals. Who needs MJ when you got guys with skills.? I think Miller was wear the Shaq IceyHot under his jersey. Heat are the best, take the rest and play golf. Shane is another classy guy , great to see him win it all.And Howard gets a ring for being a true pro for 18 years, Riley always takes some old pros like Mourning to win championships, even if they don’t play , they practice hard to set an example for the Rookies, like Coles that played great.

  11. iowahbr - Jun 22, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Hero ball didn’t work for the Heat last year and didn’t work for the Thunder this year. The stars need to work on how to use the other players on the team in really tight games. Mike Miller couldn’t have been better than he was last night and his shots came most often from passes from or set up by James. Get Ibaka and Perkins going on offense and the series next year could end differently. The biggest problems is keeping the team together. Congrats to Lebron and to their coach, Spolestra..

  12. florida727 - Jun 22, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    If Mike Miller walks away from the game, what a great way to go out. Class act. Put his body through more than anyone should have to because of his love for the game (love him or hate him, it reminds me of Iverson with what he put his body through as well). Congrats, Mike. Wear that ring proudly. You earned it.

  13. heat256 - Jun 22, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I believe Mike will walk away from the game after this. But what a way to go!! They wouldn’t have done it without him. Just an amazing performance and it typifies how gritty the guys are who play here. Thanks Mike!!

  14. trimaster1 - Jun 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    I’m happy for Mike Miller as if that were me playing. Just imagine what was going thru his mind:

    “This will probably be my last shot at playing in the NBA, let alone the Finals! I will have to live with this game for the rest of my life. I’m going to leave it out there on the court and whatever happens, happens.”

    If that’s your last game, THAT’S how you play it! The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the court and his teammates all gave him hugs & high 5’s. It was fantastic!

    I couldn’t be happier for the guy. Now I hope his injuries aren’t too serious and that he can live pain free.

  15. hodaghunter - Jun 22, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    If anyone really believes Miller was hurt that bad needs to look at him on offense. The man was gliding and running like a fresh 18 year old kid. Only on defense did he crouch over or limp. Doc was right, the guy is playing possum.

    • bougin89 - Jun 22, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      I agree, he was definitely acting like he could barely breath/stand upright but all of a sudden would be going full speed when he needed to. Whatever I guess, thats what the NBA culture is like now.

      Either way he was absolutely on fire last night and played great, just wish the announcers could give him credit for that and not go on and on how he could barely even move when it seemed quite obvious he wasn’t as injured as he was leading on.

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