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High school coach talks of Miller's second title chance

Mitchell native Mike Miller is heading to his second consecutive NBA finals and his high school coach Gary Munsen said he knows how important winning the title is.

Mike Miller
Miami Heat's Mike Miller, a Mitchell native, dribbles the ball up the court during an NBA basketball game earlier this year. Miller and the Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals for the second straight year. The series starts today against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Mitchell native Mike Miller is heading to his second consecutive NBA finals and his high school coach Gary Munsen said he knows how important winning the title is.

"The feeling of getting second is not real good," Munsen said.

Munsen knows how a runner-up finish feels after leading the Kernels to two-straight second-place finishes at the South Dakota Class AA boys' state basketball tournament in his final seasons as head coach for MHS.

"I don't care what level you play at, championships are not easy to get there," Munsen said. "Even state championships like we've been getting to are difficult and one of the reasons he went to Miami was to win a ring."

Munsen, who used to follow the Boston Celtics all the time but found himself rooting for his former player in the Eastern Conference finals, said Miller needs to capitalize on this year's opportunity if he wants to be on an NBA championship team.

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"In the business he's in, you don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next," Munsen said. "Everybody's trade bait and with his house going up for auction everybody thinks he's already gone."

Miller has been dealing with injuries and has seen his time on the court become less and less.

In the first round for the Heat, Miller averaged more than 23 minutes on the floor per game. In the Eastern Conference finals, Miller averaged 12.6 minutes per game and only saw four minutes of action in Miami's game 7 win.

"I could be biased and say he should play more minutes but I'm not sitting there coaching him every day," Munsen said.

"I don't know what's going on with injuries because some nights he plays more than others," he added. "In my opinion his minutes depend on if he hits three's right away."

Despite playing through nagging injuries, Miller is averaging 4.9 points per game in 18 minutes per game through the playoffs compared to last year's playoffs in which the Mitchell native averaged 15.5 minutes per game and 3.5 points per contest.

"In the NBA you've got to battle, battle, battle just to get there," Munsen said. "It's a great accomplishment just to be on a team and I'm very proud of him. It's pretty exciting watching him play."

Miller was unable to be contacted for this story.

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Miller and the Heat play their first game of the NBA finals at 8 p.m. tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City.

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