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Report: Erik Spoelstra considering starting Mike Miller in Game 4

Jun 13, 2013, 2:50 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

Miami needs floor spacing to get their offense going. The San Antonio Spurs are packing the paint, ignoring Dwyane Wade on the perimeter off the ball, taking away LeBron James’ driving lanes and daring anyone on the Spurs to regularly beat them by shooting over the top. The Heat have become stagnant, the weak side movement in their offense seems to have gone away.

The only Heat player to really space the floor in this series is Mike Miller, who is 10-of-11 from three the NBA Finals.

So Erik Spoelstra is considering starting him, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Looking to jump-start a sluggish offense, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is considering changing his starting lineup for Game 4 of the NBA Finals and inserting the hot-shooting Mike Miller, sources said Thursday…

If Spoelstra decides to make the change with Miami trailing the San Antonio Spurs 2-1 in the best-of-seven Finals, Miller likely would replace Udonis Haslem in the starting lineup to give the Heat more shooters in an attempt to spread the floor.

Miller and LeBron have been +18.9 per 100 possessions when paired this series. It’s worth a shot. But whether he starts or comes off the bench, expect a lot of Miller and a lot of shooters on the court for the Heat.

Two quick thoughts.

First, it’s not just the offense that is the Heat’s problem — they were worse on the defensive end in Game 3. Fixing the offensive problems is less than half the story, although Miller certainly has been solid on defense.

Second, I have a theory that the first coach to break his regular routine in a series — to really mess with rotations or radically alter strategy — is the coach that knows he’s beat. If you get all the way to the NBA Finals doing one thing, you don’t change it up unless you have to. Sometimes the desperation moves pay off and things change, but it’s not a good sign.

  1. gpatrick15 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    *Sniff sniff* is that panic I smell?

  2. savvybynature - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    “Fixing the offensive problems is less than half the story, although Miller certainly has been solid on defense.”

    Has it? I saw him go under screens on 3 point shooters last game and get burned, and chase his man through screens when his teammate had already switched, causing the team defense to get burned.
    I’d need to see some actual analysis to believe this, because to my eye his defense has been suspect. His positive +/- has been mostly due to his exceptional long-distance shooting from what I’ve seen.
    Second, starting Miller is a good idea, but Wade is who needs to be benched. The Spurs have already been having a field day on the glass the last two games, and if Tony is limited the Spurs will look to establish Duncan inside early. Haslem’s defense could be useful in that regard. Wade’s skillset would be better utilized as the primary playmaker when Lebron is out of the game imo, but of course that won’t happen because of egos and “brand protection.” Of course maybe Spo is planning on playing James 48 minutes anyway, a la Durant in last season’s WCF. That is probably a good move, but would also show more desperation. At this point, maybe the Heat could use some desperation.

  3. asublimeday - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    I’m surprised Kurt wasn’t too busy crying into his Lebron sheets to write this story

  4. explosionsauce - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Might be too little too late. Go Spurs Go!

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      relax it’s 2-1
      good move.
      LeBron will have a monster game, Duncan will be demolished.

      • fventricle - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        go ahead demolish Duncan, we’ll answer back with Green and Neal..oh and that guy Parker, is it?

        Maybe Ginobli? or Leonard? idk your choice

      • explosionsauce - Jun 13, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        Calmer than you are dude. And you can’t demolish Duncan, this is basketball not ‘Nam, there are rules.

  5. jbeagles23 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    His rotations suck anyways. Sometimes haslem only starts each half and sits the rest

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      shake up the lineup, besides LeBron everyone else has lost their game.
      I don’t see LeBron going like a chump.

  6. bhester1906 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    I am a Heat fan first and foremost. But, wouldn’t you want to start a guy who is shooting 10/11 from 3? Just a thought…

    • gpatrick15 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Not when that guy is as injury prone as he is. Not when that guy hasn’t played significant minutes until recently, and not he moonlights as a traffic cone on defense. He’s hot, certainly, but he’s a bench player for a reason.

      • miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

        Mike Miller showed he was healthy in the first couple of months of the season, and after that he was put away like a fire extinguisher, “break glass in case of emergency”. Miller has done nothing but reward Spoelstra’s faith in him since he came back into the lineup against Indiana.

        He is certainly not a traffic cone on defense, and his rebounding is underrated. And who cares about being injury prone if he is healthy now? What, should they save his legs for summer workouts? It’s not like he didn’t play all year, Miller has 17 starts and played in 59 games during the regular season.

        I’m not saying this move will necessarily pay off for the Heat, but the reasons you site don’t make much sense. And he would be replacing Haslem, who played just 10 minutes in game 3. Better to make a move now than after another loss.

    • biasedhomer - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      And when he misses the 3, no one on his team can grab the rebound other than James.

  7. losanginsight - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Scottie pippen jr should start at point guard today since he has been shrinking under the big lites since game 1.He’s about 6’2 1/2 right now.

  8. HotHotHeat - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Miller is shooting 90% from 3’s in the Finals. Spo would be an idiot not to start him at this point.

    • alildusty - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      @hothotheat and @bhester1906

      i’m just going to assume both of you guys are heat fanboy bandwagoners that don’t know much about basketball. READ THE ARTICLE, especially the end of it.

      There’s a reason why miller didn’t play much throughout the season but in the end it players are creatures of habit. mess with it and they fall apart. It doesn’t matter who starts or comes off the bench it’s about who is there to close out quarters, halves and games.

    • fventricle - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      you think hes going to keep that up? all he does is shoot 3s…defense is a liability and you have to see his +/- ratio as a starter

  9. cantonbound13 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Panic move. They could insert Larry Bird in his prime, it’s not going to make LeChoke better.

    • gmsingh123 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      It’s not a panic move to me. It’s just too little too late. The Heat have always been a one trick pony: LeBron does well and the team does well. If LeBron were hurt or kicked out of a game they wouldn’t have a prayer of winning. So, the only smart thing a coach would do with that team is come up with different rotations to maximize their chances when LeBron is shut down by a smart defense. It’s not as if the Bull and Pacers haven’t done this to them before. So I keep hearing Spoelstra is a good coach, but I don’t seem him doing anything to counteract Pop’s well thought out defense of LeBron. And the best thing about all of this is the more befuddled LeBron gets the worse he plays. The exact opposite of what the real champions do in the face of adversity.

    • bcwildcat24 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      Let’s ask your boy Carmelo Anthony how to play on the big…oh wait! Yeah at least Lebron actually has gotten his team on the big stage 4 different times. Keep ragging on Lebron for coming up short. But unlike Lebron, Carmelo will never sniff the Finals.

      • miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

        No, Carmelo will one day sniff the finals- as Miami’s sixth man.

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:28 PM

        How can you compare Melo, who played out West against powerhouses like the Lakers, Mavs & Spurs, with LeBron who’s toughest opponent to reaching the finals was an old Pistons team lead by an old Chauncey Billups. When LeBron played those Western teams in the Finals he was 2-8. Please understand the game before making stupid comments. It’s jokes like you that have the country making fun of Heat fans.

      • miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:47 PM

        OK, so what’s the excuse for Carmelo for the past three years CB13? Because that’s all I hear from you on matters of ‘melo.

        It’s trolls like you who give actual, live-under-a-bridge Trolls a bad name.

      • leahcima1 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        cantonjerk13 did you notice the Hall of Fame game James just played? You’re a little jealous that you’ve never seen such brilliance in Madison Sq. Garden aren’t you? Time to return to the village that misses it’s little idiot isn’t cj. LOL

      • leahcima1 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Somebody tell canton jerk13 that a) a single player doesn’t win or lose out west or out east and b) that this year the Heat with Lebron SWEPT the west. Get back to your village cantonjerk13 they miss their idiot. The garbage needs collecting.

    • leahcima1 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      cantonjerk13 did you notice the Hall of Fame game James just played? You’re a little jealous that you’ve never seen such brilliance in Madison Sq. Garden aren’t you? Time to return to the village that misses it’s little idiot isn’t cj. LOL

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Only thing I notice is how you predictably disappear after a loss & reappear, talking trash after a win. What do to expect from a coward.

  10. 13arod - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    bhester1906 they are read the story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. ermur22 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    gpatrick15——-Smells like desperation!!

  12. kdubb32 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    The theory on coaches routine is wrong. You only have to think back to the 2011 finals when Carlisle inserted JJ Barea into the starting lineup mid series to see evidence to the contrary.

  13. packhawk04 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    “Sometimes the desperation move pays off, but its not a good sign.”

    That is a 100% accurate statement.

  14. anthonymtx - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Like Pop can’t adjust for that? That’s a stupid move if they decide to do that. Sure tire out your 3pt shooter before the 2nd half when you need him. I have a feeling that this is gonna be another slaughter and the Spurs are gonna be just one game away from winning now. I’m seeing panic and that’s never bode well for the heat…..right Anderson?

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      so what would Pop do?
      and why didn’t he do something during the game 2 blowout?
      sometimes people talk about Pop like he invented basketball, he
      is a HOF coach but he isn’t the greatest.

  15. cantonbound13 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    David Stern appointed Scott Foster to officiate Game 4. The same Scott Foster that officiated 15 Heat games, where ironically the Heat won 14 of them. The Same Scott Foster that has seen the home team go 11 games under 500 in games he’s officiated. Looks like Stern is up to his old tricks again.

    • gmsingh123 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Oh boy, we’re talkin’ at least 40 trips to the line for Miami! And look for Parker to get hammered again and not have a single foul called against the Heat.

    • zblott - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      You mean the Scott Foster who was really good friends with Tim Donaghy and had dozens of phone conversations with him right before and after numerous games that Donaghy bet on? Yeah, he should be reffing in the NBA, let alone the Finals.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      Just curious, but are the referees assigned game by game, or are they decided upon before the series begins? If they are decided upon beforehand, it would be a good idea for the NBA to release the schedule before the series.

  16. chicagosportsnut - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    this article is very true. The Heat are desperate. They won 66 games in the regular season with that starting lineup. and they trail 2-1 in the series. The Pacers took them to 7 games. The Bulls beat them with bench players to stop the winning streak. Outside the big 3, this team is a YMCA basketball league team. This team is exposed. They have no bench. Spurs bench are playing like starters because Miami have no good players outside the big 3. So LBJ and DW have to play 46+ minutes to stay in the game.

  17. miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    There’s a reason this type of absurdist conspiracy theory junk only gains traction on internet message boards- nobody would stand behind a statement so stupid if they actually had to have their real name and face next to it.

    So let’s see, on one hand you have the Heat losing this series, but just in case your dreams are dashed on that one, you can say Miami won because of the 30th annual David Stern fix. Either way you can say you called it.

    Man, that’s what I call GUTS.

    • miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM


      Was meant to be a reply to u-know-hoo just above me.

    • reesesteel23 - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      Lol exactly

  18. llfreedman - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    “Second, I have a theory that the first coach to break his regular routine in a series — to really mess with rotations or radically alter strategy — is the coach that knows he’s beat.”

    Good point- so where is Battier????????? Battier was a huge part of the Heat success this season…

  19. jbeagles23 - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Battier like bonnet doesn’t bring anything to this series. Too much athleticism on both sides

  20. reedme16 - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    It still baffles me at how excited Spurs fans are and how everyone is thinking Mia is in such a bad position. I can’t wait until the Heat win tonight and the whole narrative changes with the Heat regaining home court.

    As far as the lineup change, that happened last series. Inserting Mike Miller is getting back to the Heats true identity. Instead of Battier its Miller. A move that Should have made 2 series ago. Spo is a horrible coach, But thats Lebrons fault too

  21. jadaruler - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    On the routine thing, it depends on the situation. I remember Avery Johnson move Devin Harris to the starting lineup vs. San Antonio in the 06 playoffs. That worked very well.

    I also saw Avery change his lineup vs GSW the next year and it was diaster.

    If I were Miami I would run pick and roll with Lebron and Bosh. Getting Bosh closer to the basket and into his range would do wonders for his game.

  22. reedme16 - Jun 13, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    If all Heat fans are bandwagon fans, What does that make all of you rooting against us. Wasn’t this much hatred when we had players like Jamario Moon, Dorell Wright, Beasley, and Rafer Alston. Oh it’s because of the Heat celebrating before we won anything. We did the same thing when Shaq came and he promised a championship. The biggest thing Lebron did was announced he was leaving Cleveland. Other than that he plays the game how you are supposed to and stays out of trouble and has more critics than Kobe. Someone who never made his teammates better and was accused of rape. But he is a winner right? Only when he had two of the best centers in the league and the greatest coach of all time. This would be obvious if people used their common sense.

    And Melo is nowhere in the class of Lebron…..period! All of Melos Denver teams were better than Lebrons Cleveland teams. And if it was because he was on the West, why can’t he get further than the second round in the east now. I’m sure that’s everyone’s fault but Melos. But when you talk Lebron none of those factors matter. Lebron doing what he did in Cleveland was amazing considering who he was playing with. Mo Williams was the second best player he played with while in Cleveland. Let that sink in. Melo played with Iverson, Billups, A Miller, Nene, all of which is better talent than Lebron ever had in Cleveland.

  23. edavidberg - Jun 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM


    Second, I have a theory that the first coach to break his regular routine in a series — to really mess with rotations or radically alter strategy — is the coach that knows he’s beat.

    This is a theory that doesn’t apply to basketball because basketball is all about matchups. It’s also a theory that would be disproven by the Spurs winning the series considering the fact the Spurs have already broken their routine. Gary Neal was little used for much of the season and playoffs. Now he has a huge role. Furthermore, Mike Miller was already getting a lot of run. Howis starting him a radical change?

    If I were a Miami fan (and I’m not, I am enjoying every game they lose) I would be concerned if Spoelstra wasn’t going to adjust. The Pop/Spo matchup is the main one the Spurs have a huge edge on. If Spo can adjust he can minimize that edge and help the Heat win the series.

  24. reedme16 - Jun 13, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Your a joke for thinking that Melo even compares. Lebron played against a Pistons team that was one year removed from going to back to back championship games. Billups was not washed up, he was still productive in Denver. That’s just something that you are using to make an argument. They played against the big three Celtics that beat those powerhouse Lakers in ’08. And this is still with a roster that had far less talent than any of those Denver teams. Melo is a scorer and not a winner. And you still didn’t address the fact that Melo ain’t doing nothing in the watered down East! Your whole argument is a joke. During the 7 years Lebron was with Cleveland three champions came out of the East. Pistons, Celtics, and Heat. Spurs and Lakers were the only other teams to win. Not to mention that the Lakers were from 04 to 08 because Shaq was in Mia. Dallas was not dominating during that time and the West was wide open for Melo. During this time Pho with Nash stepped up but Denver went nowhere with the great Melo! I know basketball. …. those bs arguments don’t with with me. @cantonbound

  25. olandandigdotcom - Jun 13, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    The idea of starting Mike Miller, is not how many 3s he’ll made. It is how his presence help the Heat to space the floor and that gives LBJ a lot of options. Once their offense is in good flow their defense will be solid as well. Good move by the coach! (I’m not a Heat fan)

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