The last time the Thunder saw Mike Miller in a playoff series, he was battered, bruised and nearly broken.
His back was shot. His ankle was hurting. His shoulder was aching. His thumb was surgically repaired.
But he couldn’t miss.
In one of the most unlikely performances in NBA Finals history, Miller shot the Thunder’s lights out, scoring 23 points and making seven of his eight 3s during a Game 5 blowout that sealed the Heat’s 2012 NBA Championship.
And minutes after putting the Thunder to sleep, hobbling down the court after each dagger three, an introspective Miller sounded like a guy facing his final NBA days. Retirement looked a lot more likely than career rejuvenation.
But two seasons later, Miller is healthier than ever. After spurning the Thunder in free agency this offseason for a return to Memphis, Miller played all 82 regular-season games for the first time since 2001, his rookie year in the league.
And for the second time in three seasons, he looks to rekindle his role as Thunder postseason killer.
Memphis has always given OKC issues with its bruising style of play. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph control the inside, while defensive pests roam around the perimeter.
But the Grizzlies lack of 3-point shooting has been an Achilles heel. This year, they remain near the bottom of the league in almost all outside shooting metrics.
Miller, though, provides the Grizzlies a sharpshooting weapon they’ve lacked against OKC in the past.
This season, he was the third-most accurate outside shooter in the NBA, making 107 threes at a 46 percent clip.
“It gives them the ability to stretch the floor,” Scott Brooks said. “They have a center that’s a great passer and a point guard that’s a great passer, so any time you have shooting on the floor, it helps…Mike Miller is one of the best shooters in the league.”
And he’s got another chance to burn the Thunder, adding another interesting subplot to this intriguing first-round series.