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What Miller may mean

It's almost unfair, really, if this whole Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller thing works out for the Heat from here on out.

You're not supposed to get significantly better in the middle of the Eastern Conference Finals. And if Haslem remains part of the regular rotation and Miller contributes without being significantly affected by his thumbs, then the Heat will be better at the end of this series than it was at the start. Gators four

We all know what Haslem's role is going to be if he can handle the minutes. He's a defender, rebounder, mid-range shooter and fast-break finisher.

(Just for fun, a photo of the Florida 1998 recruiting class. UD, Miller, Teddy Dupay and LaDarius Halton)

Miller, though, we really haven't figured out yet -- at least as it pertains to this offense. In his 18 minutes in Game 2, Miller attempted only two shots but still made an impact on the game with seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and consistent effort. The longer he's out there, the more three opportunities will open up, and eventually he'll hit a few.

More importantly, though, if Miller remains a regular, he'll be part of a solid defensive lineup against the Bulls.

Primarily at the end of halves, the Bulls tend to run pick-and-rolls with Derrick Rose and either Kyle Korver or Luol Deng. The Rose-Korver screen-roll is particularly damaging -- and it's probably why they use it at ends of games -- because Korver needs little space to free up for a jumper, and we all know what Rose can do if the defense doesn't commit two guys to him.

But if the Heat has a trio of Miller, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James out there, the Heat can easily switch that pick-and-roll, taking away some of its threat. Ideally, Wade or LeBron would be on Korver and Rose, respectively, so if they switch there's no drop-off. Miller allows that to be an option because he's big enough to guard Deng. But even if Miller is part of that screen-roll defense, he can even switch on Rose, and the Heat's defense doesn't truly suffer as a result (anyone guarding Rose one-on-one would rely on help anyway).

It's an added benefit of having Miller out there, but in Game 2 his main reason for being on the floor was to keep Mario Chalmers off it. Erik Spoelstra has faith in Chalmers, and very well could go right back to him as the backup point in the first half on Sunday. But even if that's the case, he will have a short leash, with Spo ready to replace him with Miller, like he did for the second half Wednesday.

For the series, Chalmers is 4 of 8 shooting for nine points with zero assists, one rebound and six turnovers. Chicago's C.J. Watson has pretty much stifled Chalmers, forcing him into awful mistakes, and Chalmers has gotten himself into other bad spots, like when he floated across the baseline in the first half Wednesday with no one to pass it to, eventually just turning it over. Miller has had a much bigger impact in seven less minutes for the series (10 rebounds in 21 minutes).

Of course, the Bulls will adjust to both the presence of Haslem and Miller. But other than keeping a body on Haslem in the fastbreak and one on Miller when there's a rebounding opportunity, there's not much the Bulls can do to counter these two, because they get most of their production off effort or well-executed Heat offense. They won't be a surprise from here on out, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to contribute significantly -- especially if their minutes get a slight bump.

 

 

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