This will be a much different Father’s Day for the Heat’s Mike Miller than the one in 2011.
That year, the holiday came seven days after Miami lost the NBA Finals to Dallas, and with much on Miller’s mind — the health of his daughter, Jaelyn, who had been born one month earlier with five holes in her heart.
Sunday night, unless coach Erik Spoelstra makes an unforeseen change, Miller will be starting Game 5 of the Finals and the Heat will have a chance to go ahead 3-2 in the series.
Jaelyn will be back in South Florida with her brothers, who have their own athletic events they couldn’t miss, even as their mother, Jennifer, traveled to San Antonio to be with her husband.
But the family’s worries are gone.
“Oh man, she’s come a long ways,” Miller said of Jaelyn. “In the doctors’ eyes, she is pretty much completely healthy. It makes Father’s Day extra special for sure. What happened with her put a lot of things in perspective, as far as basketball’s concerned. You still have passion for it, but you don’t lose as much sleep over it.”
So will he start, as he did Thursday night in place of Udonis Haslem?
It certainly sounds like it, with Spoelstra wanting to space the floor at the start.
“We just think it’s important for us right now in this series and this matchup,” Spoelstra said. “That’s why we did it. The score did not indicate the impact that we thought it had on how we want to play. We were down 10, but the most important thing is getting to our game in this matchup.”
So was Spurs coach Gregg Popovich surprised by the move, which had been reported earlier Thursday by ESPN.com?
“No,” he said.
And while not giving away strategy, is it possible Popovich might counter with something different?
“I’d hate to be trite and say anything is possible,” Popovich said. “Your question demands my triteness.”
No time for Dad: The long season keeps players away from their families, which means that many use Skype, Tango, FaceTime and other video applications to stay in touch with their kids.
Well, they try anyway.
“My oldest son is 14 now, so he’s too cool,” Haslem said. “And my 6-year-old and my 2-year-old, they can’t really hold much of a conversation after 30 seconds.”
No chirping: Chris “Birdman” Andersen has been one of the surprising, feel-good stories of the Heat’s season, not only adding hustle and energy to the team’s play, but also earning the embrace of the South Florida community.
While Andersen hasn’t wanted to speak much about his past, he has largely been cooperative with the media. He even spoke with reporters following the morning shootaround after he learned of his suspension for Game 6 in Indiana.
On Thursday, he didn’t play for a different reason — with Miller moving to the starting lineup, and Haslem still needed for his defense on Spurs forward Tim Duncan, Andersen was the odd man out.
At Saturday’s media availability, Andersen shook off several reporters’ attempts to interview him.
Straight flushed: The Finals have taken on the same pattern as the Eastern Conference finals in which the teams have alternated wins.
For the Heat, that means they haven’t won two straight games since beating the Pacers in Game 1 for their fifth straight victory in the postseason. This from a team that fashioned a 27-game winning streak during the regular season.
The Spurs experienced something stranger last season:
They won 20 straight, including the first two games of the Western Conference finals against Oklahoma City.
They never won again.
How does this happen?
“I don’t try to understand (the) basketball gods since last year when we won 20 games and then lost four in a row,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “It’s like that. It’s hard to explain.”