Blog Entry

NBA Finals: Can Chalmers make a difference?

Posted on: June 5, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 2:52 pm
 


Posted by Matt Moore

Mario Chalmers had a great fourth quarter. And no one noticed because of Dirk freaking Nowitzki.

Chalmers has been criticized this season by fans, the media, and Heat haters, a religion unto itself, for not stepping up, for being the big question mark at point guard. Mike Bibby having taken his starting spot doesn't help matters. Chalmers has been in a rough position since he was drafted, trying to be the running mate to Dwyane Wade and never making the leap. But the Heat have stuck with him, and Chalmers has remained in the rotation for much of the season, always busting back into it when he's been pushed out.

In Game 2, Chalmers was a big part of the Heat's run in the fourth which established that 15-point lead they dropped. He went left off the pick and roll, and found himself with the lane as the defense collapsed on the stars. He didn't hesitate, drove straight to the bucket past Tyson Chandler for a layup. He had a similar possession minutes later, and the defense this time overreacted to his drive, leaving Chris Bosh wide open at 17 feet. I mean wide open. I'm talking, could have made himself a cappucino and some scones, wide-open. Bosh missed.

On the game tying 3-pointer, Chalmers calmly looped around the defense and snuggled into the right corner. James through a perfect cross-court pass, and Chalmers caught and released. No hesitation, no dribble re-set. Calmly knocked the shot down and basked in what should have been his moment. Game tied, Heat's defense would hold, Chalmers' 3-pointer would be pointed to as a huge reason for the win.

It was of course, Chalmers' defense that left Jason Kidd open on a key 3-pointer late, so maybe it was a wash. But while the Heat's hero-ball was failing, Chalmers had been punishing the Mavericks for leaving him. Chalmers told CBSSports.com that the Mavericks' specific approach was giving him chances, and he's trying to capitalize.

"You've got more opportunities, especially with the way they're defending. They're paying so much attention to LeBron and DWade, and they're packing the paint. I've just got to take advantage whether it's from the outside or on the pick and roll."

Head coach Erik Spoelstra said that finding a balance between aggressiveness and deferring to the Heat stars has been a work in progress for Chalmers all season.

"We don't want to be playing three-on-five. He's been working on that balance all year."

The Heat need an outside shooter, and Chalmers has been providing the spark. They've needed someone who could drive from the side off the overload from Wade and James, and Chalmers has done the job. His contributions aren't huge, but you have to wonder if at some point "'Rio" will work his way back into the starting lineup and into a heavier rotation with the struggles of Mike Bibby defensively.
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