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Mike Miller, Grizzlies ready for postseason

Memphis Grizzlies forward and Mitchell native Mike Miller (13) shoots against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of an NBA game Monday at US Airways Center. (Reuters photo)

Mike Miller has been known to turn it on in the NBA playoffs, knocking down three after three.

The 34-year-old Mitchell native played a vital role in helping the Miami Heat win back-to-back NBA championships — highlighted by his Game 5 Finals performance in 2012, when he shot 7-of-8 from behind the arc and finished with 23 points, and earning a spot in the Heat’s starting lineup in the last four NBA Finals games last season.

With the Heat, Miller played limited minutes through the regular season to preserve an injured body. Now playing with the Grizzlies after signing as a free agent last summer, Miller’s minutes have been anything but limited.

Memphis’ oldest player has been the only one on the roster to appear in all 82 games, helping the Grizzlies, who are on a five-game win streak, to a franchise-record fourth consecutive postseason.

“I’m a 34-year-old right now with about a 30-year-old body, 28-year-old body,” Miller said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I feel great. I’m ready to play.”

Miller and the seventh-seeded Grizzlies open the first round of the 2014 playoffs on the road against second-seeded Oklahoma City at 8:30 p.m Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN.

This is the first season since his rookie campaign in Orlando in 2000-01 that Miller has played a full 82 games. He is the 23rd player in the league’s history to play a full regular season in his 14th season or later. The list consists of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and John Stockton — to name a few. This season, Miller averaged 20.8 minutes per game, making four starts.

Miller has made his presence known for the Grizzlies off the bench, shooting 46 percent from behind the arc and averaging 7.1 points per game. After the All-Star break, the 6-foot-8 forward has knocked down 54 percent of his three-point shots.

In April, Miller is averaging 8.4 points per game and recorded his season-high 21 points Monday when Memphis clinched a playoff spot with a win over Phoenix. He’s also had three 19-point games this season, with one coming on April 11 against Philadelphia.

Miller, who has played for Memphis for seven years throughout his 15-year career, has yet to win a playoff game in a Grizzlies uniform. He helped Memphis reach the playoffs for three seasons from 2004 to 2006. During those years, the Grizzlies lost 12 straight playoff games, setting an NBA record.

Five years later in 2011, Memphis won its first postseason series and advanced to its first Western Conference final last season.

“I have unfinished business here, and we’re going to see how it plays out,” Miller said of going far in the postseason.

The Grizzlies have their work cut out for them as they will have to get past a tough Thunder team, who’s had Memphis’ number this season. Oklahoma City recorded a 3-1 record against the Grizzlies during the regular season.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.