NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat's Most Imporant Players Not Named James, Wade or Bosh
When it comes to the Miami Heat, every player who is not part of the "Big Three" has at some time or another gotten the label of X-factor from a sports analyst.
Within the 2012 NBA playoffs, besides Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, the most talked-about member of the Heat has been Chris Bosh.
Who is not playing.
I know that the Heat are where they are today because of the trio. I know that Dwyane Wade has been missing free throws, but turned around a dismal postseason to an unbelievable one. I know LeBron James' stat line has been gross, disgusting, sick and all the other negative adjectives that mean positive.
But the fact remains that when times turn rough for the Heat, many heads turn to the other guys in a Heat uniform for not contributing enough or being the "role players that they need to be."
Whatever that means.
To calm this talk and keep Miami on the positive path, the "role players" have to do their job and be productive in the spots that they can.
Or, in other words, fulfill their roles.
With the absence of Bosh, the seemingly ageless Shane Battier has been called on to produce in more minutes.
Battier's value this postseason has been on the defensive end. One of the key components of the Indiana series was his ability to corral Pacer forward David West.
But, he may have more offensive influence than you think.
No one can deny that the Heat are desperate during this year's playoffs for shooters to free up space for LeBron and Wade, and many have looked to Battier to do it.
During Miami's playoff victories, Battier's field-goal percentage is 31 percent. Clearly not sensational and in some respects not even respectable. Most of his shots have been from the three-point arc though, where his percentage is about the same.
In the three playoff losses for the Heat, his field-goal percentage is 18 percent. Ick (negative).
Battier needs to be able to hit the timely threes and keep up the defensive prowess for the Heat to be able to take on one of the more offensive-minded Western Conference teams for the finals.
Across the board, Mario Chalmers' numbers are up from the regular season.
The most impressive number is in the two games against the Boston Celtics, he's averaging 15.5 points.
But no one's going to talk about the other point guard in a series when Rajon Rondo is the on the floor.
Even in a loss, Rondo stole the show. He put up a ridiculous Game 2 performance, exploding for 44 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
While Chalmers is flying under the radar at the point guard position, he's definitely still as important. Running a ship where you're not the captain—or first mate for that matter—isn't easy.
Again, the pressure has been on the Heat's role players to be able to spread the floor, and Chalmers is a deep threat, shooting 35 percent from the arc.
And if the Miami Heat close out the Celtics, what's Super Mario's prize?
Russell Westbrook or Tony Parker.
He's going to be a busy man.
The dude has been called an X-factor so many times I'm beginning to think he's teammates with Cyclops and Wolverine.
Ever the team guy, Haslem has been credited by both James and Wade as the glue-guy who holds everything together.
Haslem has done a little of everything this postseason, including getting suspended one game for a retaliation foul on Tyler Hansbrough.
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Haslem recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also had three assists, two steals and one block.
A little of everything.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been ferocious at attacking the basket all season and it's carried into the playoffs. The Heat have been concentrating on getting three-point shooting on the floor to give those two room.
This leaves the mid-range game that they are desperate for, especially with Bosh out. Time and again Haslem has answered the bell and stepped up and made shots. Shooting 43 percent from the floor and grabbing just over eight boards in his last 10 games, he's been a solid contributor in the Heat's success.
Moving forward, Udonis Haslem is going to play an imperative role for Miami's future. Obviously, he'll have a bigger impact if Bosh's recovery time takes longer. Even when Bosh does come back, no one expects him to be at 100 percent. This is going to leave valuable minutes up to Haslem.
You know, fulfilling his role.