What the Miami Heat needed after a couple of losses on the road was an easy opponent, but more than that, for someone to step up while LeBron James knows he doesn’t have to give more than 100% in order for the NBA champions to win.
So Mario Chalmers was the one who made himself available. The point guard who is often the most criticized man on the court by the Heat’s big shots had his big moments in the NBA finals last season, but he’s been mostly dormant this season. Having Ray Allen as a more lucrative option to make open shots has made Chalmers look like the forgotten man, despite his importance contributions in the Heat’s biggest moment.
Averaging only 7.5 points on 41.7% from the field this season, Chalmers was bound sometime for a much bigger game in which he was going to make his presence felt. It’s hard being the point guard for the Heat when you’re usually the third option, sometimes the fourth, in not just making shots but actually touching the ball.
So Chalmers is getting used to a reduced role which is never easy, and hasn’t been going well this season. Still, Chalmers was a big game waiting to happen. He’s too good of a player, too good of a shooter to not have one. It turned out to be a career-best kind of game.
Despite LeBron James with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals and Chris Bosh with 16 points and not to mention Dwyane Wade with a very quiet 11 points (only 5 field goal attempts), Chalmers was the one who stood out. The former Kansas star finished with 34 points, making 10 three pointers. He’s the first player in the Big 3 Era to lead the team in scoring in a game in which James, Wade and Bosh all played.
Even more impressive was adapting to the role he will probably have to be playing in a lot more this season: A catch and shoot kind of evening, while Bosh, James and Wade had no problem handling the double teams with a smart passing game and ball movement, combining for 19 assists. Chalmers made a third of his shots off catch and shoot plays. He scored nine of his career-high 34 points on 3-of-5 shooting on such plays. Chalmers entered the game averaging 2.7 catch-and-shoot points per game, while shooting 31.3%, which ranked last among 77 players with at least 100 catch-and-shoot plays.
For the most part we played to our identity, aggressive at both ends of the court. It was good to get a game like this anywhere, home or away. It was good to see our team put its foot down on the pedal and keep it down. Finally we got back in our game in every aspect, offensively and defensively tonight.
This has been the struggle for the Heat this season, especially on the road games. Keeping an intensity level, especially on defense, to keep them going through rough patches. You have to give some games up in order to manage the 82 games well, but it seems that turning and off an on switch all through the season isn’t the best way to make things happen. Adding another piece to the mix of players who can step up for one of the big stars makes thing a lot more simpler.