What Miller will be missing

Normally having a game canceled -- even a preseason game -- would be the lead story for any team, but the bigger news for the Heat on Friday was that sharpshooter Mike Miller will be out until January after surgery on his right thumb.

If Miller returns on Jan. 1, he'll have missed 34 games, or just over 40 percent of the season. Some notes on the games Miller is likely to miss:

  • Based on ESPN.com's experts predictions, Miller will miss four games against Miami's top competition for the Eastern Conference title. The Heat face both the Celtics and Magic twice before Thanksgiving, including once each next week. However, Miami doesn't have the first of its three games against Chicago until Jan. 15.

  • Miami has 17 home games and 17 road games scheduled before the new year. The Heat have a six-game homestead from Nov. 6-19, and a four-game road trip from Dec. 6-11. However, tougher than that road trip (with games at Milwaukee, Utah, Golden State and Sacramento) will likely be the stretch at the end of the month, with road games at Phoenix, the Lakers and Houston sandwiched around a home date against the Knicks.

  • Since Miller's absence hurts not only the talent level, but the depth of the Heat, it's worth noting that Miami has eight back-to-backs in that stretch, starting with Tuesday and Wednesday at Boston and Philadelphia. That's the first of three road-road back-to-backs before January, with no home-home doubles in that span.

  • Given the major roster overhaul this past summer, using last year's records to judge strength of schedule is a futile effort, but for what it's worth, the Heat's opponents during the first two-plus months of the season had a collective .492 win percentage last season. That does include two games against the 12-70 Nets, who should be much improved in 2010-11, but also includes two games against the 61-21 Cavaliers, who can be expected to take a step back.