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Washington Wizards guard Andre Miller (24) passes past Milwaukee Bucks guards Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), from Greece, and Ramon Sessions (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Kragthorpe: Ex-Ute Andre Miller wins NBA playoff series
First Published May 02 2014 08:34 am • Last Updated May 03 2014 03:54 pm

In his 16th year in the NBA, covering 10 postseason appearances with four teams, Andre Miller finally won a playoff series.

The breakthrough with the Washington Wizards came after the most unusual regular season of the former University of Utah star’s career, by far. Idled for most of two months after feuding with Denver coach Brian Shaw, Miller was traded to Washington on Feb. 20.

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Miller assumed a consistent, if relatively minor, role as a point guard playing behind John Wall and helped the Wizards beat Chicago in five games in an Eastern Conference first-round series. Washington will meet Indiana or Atlanta in the East’s semifinals.

At age 38, Miller averaged only 4.0 points in 10.4 minutes in the series. But he made big contributions in the first two games, totaling 18 points as the Wizards won twice in Chicago to take command of the series.

And he’ll still be playing in the middle of May, when he’s always been on vacation. Before going 4-1 with the Wizards, Miller was 16-36 in playoff games — after helping the Utes reach the NCAA championship game in 1998 with five tournament victories.

Miller’s best playoff performance came with Philadelphia in 2009, when he averaged 21.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists as the No. 6-seeded 76ers lost to Orlando. Prior to this week, the closest he had come to advancing to the second round was in 2012 with Denver, as the No. 6 Nuggets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

With Miller’s help, the No. 5 Wizards won a playoff series for the first time since 2005 and the third time since 1979.

They now have a decent chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals. Indiana and Atlanta will play Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday at Indianapolis. Even if the No. 1 Pacers advance and have home-court advantage vs. Washington, they certainly haven’t looked impressive enough to make anyone believe they would overwhelm the Wizards.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt


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