One of Erik Spoelstra's biggest changes during the Eastern Conference finals was a gradual reduction in minutes for Shane Battier and the sudden addition of Mike Miller to the rotation. How will Battier and Miller be used in The Finals? It's one of the biggest mysteries heading into the series.
Before the game, neither Battier nor Miller gave any indication of how they would be used. Battier made light of his situation saying he would add his good looks and charisma to The Finals.
"Aside from being one of the most handsome guys on the team and trying to bring up the team IQ and just the debonair style of our team, no," Battier said when asked if he knew how he would be used in The Finals. "I do know I'm going to provide that, though."
While Battier is always good for a joke and nice dose of perspective, he did admit to being extremely disappointed in his performance and gradual benching against the Pacers. One year earlier, Battier was a major key to the Heat defeating the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals after Chris Bosh went down with his abdominal strain.
"Obviously as a competitor, it was tough, I'm not going to lie,'' Battier said. "It was maybe the toughest thing I've gone through as a competitor. I was super happy for my team and my teammates. In retrospect, it's OK today. Every now and then you have to eat a turd sandwich. When you eat a turd sandwich, that ribeye tastes really good next time. That's life, and that's the way I look at it."
Battier went from averaging 6.0 points per game off the bench in the second round to 2.3 points per game in the Eastern Conference finals. In Game 5, Udonis Haslem took some of Battier's minutes, which were reduced to less than nine. In Game 6, the majority of Battier's minutes went to Joel Anthony. In Game 7, Battier didn't play at all. Instead, Mike Miller played 17 minutes.
Miller provided a boost in the doomed fourth quarter of Game 6 but didn't score in Game 7. He indicated that Spoelstra hasn't made a decision on the rotation.
"Your guess is as good as mine. I don't know," Miller said. "I'm going to prepare like I always do and see what happens."
The Pacers superb three-point defense was a problem for Battier, but he might have better luck against the Spurs. As for Miller, it's hard to keep him off the court after his peformance in The Finals last season.