Mike Miller is (surprisingly) ready for training camp

11 Comments

I’ll admit it, I was convinced that Mike Miller’s three-point barrage against the Thunder in last year’s Finals was his way of blazing into glory, as in, off into the sunset. For two years, we’d watched Miller drag a body around that wasn’t just suffering in one part of his body, it was all of them. The back, the knee, the shoulder, the arm, the ankles. It hurt to watch him walkSo after winning the title and being an integral part of it, I thought for sure that would be it. Retire a champion, and get out of having to deal with the pain day after day.

Nope, Mike Miller’s one tough son of a Miller. Miller says he’s ready to start training camp, amazingly, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that has to do with the decision for him notto have surgery on his back.

  After considering retirement during the NBA Finals and then contemplating back surgery at the completion of the Heat’s championship run, Miller is up and running and looking forward to the Sept. 29 start of training camp at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said Saturday.

“I basically looked at my options and back surgery, with Dr. Green pretty confident that we could get it to where I need to be without it. So we’re slowly but surely getting there,” he said at a Saturday promotional appearance at Maye Pediatric Dentistry and Shelling Orthodontics along with teammates James Jones and Udonis Haslem, who was there to collect contributions for the Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation. “My body feels good. Like I said, we’ve just got to be smart about it.”

via Mike Miller looks to Miami Heatreturn in wake of NBA championship. – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

Miller re-joins a Heat team that upgraded at various positions he played at. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis join Shane Battier on the wing. So on the plus side, Miller won’t have to be depended on for big minutes. On the downside, if he has trouble again with staying on the floor this season, he could wind up getting those minutes back if he gets healthy. It’ll be a smaller role for him. But maybe that’s a good thing.

One thing that often gets lost with the talk of Miller’s shooting and his injury concerns is what came in the middle of all that. Miller is a tough-as-nails rebounder. Often hobbling on one leg or holding an injured shoulder, Miller would still chase down rebounds, make hustle plays, pressure the ball handler, do all the things that in reality he shouldn’t be able to do. Those things matter to the Heat. So no matter how much pain may be involved, and hopefully it’s less this time through, Miller’s going to give it another go. One more weapon for Miami.

Note: Tim Reynolds of the AP reported that Miller wanted to be back for training camp and was already planning on skipping surgery on July 17th. The fact that he’s definitely in for training camp is still notable, but this stuff isn’t breaking at all.

Pelicans Elfrid Payton returns, starts, injured again

Associated Press
Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS (AP) —The New Orleans Pelicans say point guard Elfrid Payton has a fractured finger on his left hand.

Payton injured his finger in the first quarter of his first game back on Friday night after he’d missed New Orleans’ nine previous games with a right ankle sprain.

Soon after, Payton was ruled out for the remainder of the game against the New York Knicks.

Acquired as a free agent this past offseason, Payton has played in six games for New Orleans. He entered Friday night’s games with averages 11.6 points and 6.4 assists through his first five games, but did not have a point or assist in eight minutes against New York before his latest injury.

 

Kyrie Irving scores 43, Celtics beat Raptors 123-116 in OT

1 Comment

BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 11 straight Boston points down the stretch and scored 17 in all in the last 8:06 of the fourth quarter.

Then in overtime, he really turned it on.

The Celtics guard made or assisted on every basket in the extra period, finishing with 11 assists and a season-high 43 points on Friday night to lead Boston to a 123-116 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

“Man, he made some shots tonight where you’re just like, `Wow,”‘ forward Gordon Hayward said. “You catch yourself being a fan. When he gets into that mode, the whole arena knew where we were going, and so did the Raptors. They just couldn’t stop him.”

It was the first time Irving has scored at least 40 points with 10 or more assists in a game. He was the first player do it in the NBA this year, and the first Celtics player since Antoine Walker in 2001.

“Kyrie did a great job in the fourth quarter knocking down shots,” said Kawhi Leonard, who scored 31 points and had a season-high 15 rebounds for Toronto. “We fought hard tonight, they played a better game and we’ve just got to keep playing better.”

Jayson Tatum had 21 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who evened the season series at one game apiece against the only team to finish above them in the Eastern Conference last season. The home team has won nine straight matchups.

Serge Ibaka scored 21 and Pascal Siakam had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, who have lost three straight since opening the season with 12 victories in their first 13 games. Toronto never led in overtime.

“It was just a veteran game out there, just great competition for a Friday night in the NBA,” Irving said. “You’ve got to appreciate that, two great teams going at it. And I’m pretty sure we’ll see them down the road.”

 

Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid lead Sixers past Jazz 113-107

Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jimmy Butler had the sellout crowd chanting his name and singing his favorite theme song.

Butler scored 28 points in his home debut, Joel Embiid had 23 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Utah Jazz 113-107 on Friday night.

Butler, the four-time All-Star acquired Monday from Minnesota in a five-player trade, got a loud ovation during introductions and quickly made an impression as the Sixers built a 16-point lead in the first quarter.

Fans serenaded him throughout the game and he got to hear the team’s “1-2-3 Sixers” theme song after the win.

“I already knew this crowd would be excited,” Butler said. “Now that I have them on my side it’s better for me. Y’all, we, have some great fans. Y’all have the catchiest song. I used to sing it in my head when I came in here.”

The Jazz rallied after a rough first quarter and the teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder‘s put-back after Ricky Rubio‘s stole the ball and missed a lay-up gave Utah a 107-105 lead with 1:37 left. JJ Redick tied it on a pair of free throws. Ben Simmons‘ driving lay-up gave the 76ers a 109-107 lead.

Butler then hit a jumper to extend the lead and drew an offensive foul, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Hall of Famer Allen Iverson jumped up to celebrate from his courtside seat.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Embiid said.

The 76ers are 29-1 in last 30 regular-season home games.

Redick had 16 points and Simmons had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Embiid scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter after he played less than a minute in the third because he had four fouls.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points.

“We competed but we have to be smarter,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some mistakes where we have to think more. They add up against a team like this.”

After the Jazz made the first basket, Butler scored on a reverse layup to begin a 12-0 run. He also nailed a 3-pointer during that stretch as Philadelphia dominated early.

But Utah closed to 54-52 at halftime following Derrick Favors‘ alley-oop dunk.

Redick and Mike Muscala hit consecutive 3s early in the third quarter. However, the Jazz came back and went up 81-80 on Mitchell’s jumper late in the quarter.

“Up until the end, we made a few mistakes, but we played passionate,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, they’re a great team, but we had the game in the bag except for a few mistakes. I think the game just got away.”

 

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.