Not that they desperately need it, but the Miami Heat are about to receive some big-time roster reinforcement. The Heat have reeled off 10 straight wins heading into Friday night's tilt with the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden (preview here) and have even greater cause to celebrate: forward Mike Miller is on track to return to the court in the very near future. Miller, who underwent surgery on his thumb this fall, was initially not expected to return until 2011, but a report in early Nov. said he was aiming for a Christmas return date, and Miller traveled with the Heat on their current road trip in preparation for that return. The Sun-Sentinel reports Friday that Miller went through shootaround on Friday with his Heat teammates in New York and that both Miller and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra were encouraged by his progress.
Miller declared himself fit for a return after snapping off a series of 3-pointers, but coach Erik Spoelstra said he would like to get a few more practice sessions for the offseason free-agent acquisition.
"It's great news that he's a month ahead of schedule," Spoelstra said. "We just want to see him in a few full-scale workouts. "I just went through everything, being able to catch hard passes," he said. "It was everything that's going to be in the game besides getting hit, really. Once they give me the go-ahead, I'm ready. But, at the same time, it's their decision."ESPN.com notes that Spoelstra "would not commit to an exact return date" but that it "does appear" Miller will be ready for Miami's Christmas Day date with the Los Angeles Lakers a week from Saturday. Miller, who signed with the Heat during the summer of 2010, suffered the thumb injury prior to taking the court for a regular season game, so we haven't yet been able to see South Beach's dream team at full strength. Thanks to his career 40.5% three-point shooting, Miller is seen as an ideal floor-spacer to play alongside Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. When he's hitting his shots, defenders will have to stay home, allowing James and Wade more room to operate and free them up for fewer double-teams. Without Miller, the Heat endured a rough early-season stretch and are currently tops in the Southeast Division with a record of 19-8.