Mike Miller still struggling with thumb

Updated: January 22, 2011, 4:12 PM ET
By Brian Windhorst | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- It is clear that Heat guard Mike Miller hasn't been himself this season, mostly because of a freak accident in training camp that broke his right thumb and caused him to miss more than two months after surgery.

In the month since he's been back he's struggled to get minutes in coach Erik Spoelstra's rotation and to get any sort of rhythm when he does get in. Often he's looked hesitant to shoot or create his own shot off the dribble, two of the main reasons Miami signed him to a five-year contract last summer.

Miller [The thumb] is going to be sore the whole year, they told me with the ligaments and stuff in there I've got a year to recover. It is getting better but it isn't where I want it to be.

-- Mike Miller

Saturday, Miller revealed that he might not feel like himself for the rest of the season and doctors have told him it may take a full year for the thumb to completely heal.

"It is going to be sore the whole year, they told me with the ligaments and stuff in there I've got a year to recover," Miller said. "It is getting better but it isn't where I want it to be."

After shooting 48 percent on 3-pointers last season, Miller is hitting at just 17 percent with the Heat. Some of the issue has been the brace on his right thumb, which was large and made of hard plastic that limited the feel he had for the ball and made it hard to catch-and-shoot.

Last week, for a game in Chicago, Miller got rid of the plastic brace for a lighter one and hopes it will help. But in the first game with the new wrap he landed on the thumb chasing a loose ball and jammed it.

"It's a process and I've got to be patient with it," Miller said. "The bone is good so I don't worry about anything there. It could be [a year] until it feels like it's supposed to but I'm not going to use it as an excuse. I'm healthy enough to play."

Spoelstra has staggered Miller's return and has sometimes found it difficult to get him minutes. The coach has repeatedly said that he isn't going on anyone's timetable except his own to get Miller to his regular minutes.

Miller has accepted the situation and continues to remain patient with this recovery and his role.

"Right now I'm not getting minutes I'm accustomed to but hopefully they'll come and I'll take advantage of it," Miller said. "I've never really, in my whole career, had a time when I haven't played so I've had to get used to that. But I haven't been on a team that is this talented and I have been injured like this."

Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for ESPN.com.

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