But designating which Heat role player that needs to step up for Miami to win is the more pertinent aspect to this game. Well, and if Coach Spo actually utilizes more than a six-man rotation.
In the opening matchup of this series, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem lit it up in the first half. Their combined lights-out threes, savvy assists and timely rebounds helped fuel Miami’s seven-point halftime lead.
However, all three went totally dormant in the second half (2-for-5 FGs collectively). Throw in Chris Bosh (1-for-4) and Mike Miller’s (inconsequential layup late in the fourth) disappointing performances while we’re at it.
So in Game 2, which Heat player will take that proverbial step up and offer valuable contributions akin to those provided by the Oklahoma City Thunder’s deep bench?
My money’s on Chalmers. He simply offers the greatest repertoire of skills to a basketball game.
Aside from his solid defensive play, Battier isn’t much more than a streaky three-point shooter.
Haslem will grab crucial boards and provide a menacing presence inside the paint—albeit at 6’8’’—but he isn’t a scorer.
And Miller basically doesn’t take any shots in the limited minutes he plays.
That leaves us with Chalmers.
He can hit threes in bunches, dish out assists to shooters on the wings and deftly weave through the defense and drive to the basket. He’s endowed with what Skip Bayless calls the “clutch gene” and never backs down from big-time shots.
The native Alaskan absolutely needs to replicate his 12-point (5-for-7), six-assist performance throughout the entire game this time around for the Heat to pull out a victory.
Again, if Miami is to even the series against OKC, Wade needs to shoot better than 37 percent; LeBron needs to abandon the jump shot in favor of driving to the basket and man up against Kevin Durant throughout the game; and Bosh needs to run that high pick-and-roll and play some great defense himself (and perhaps not fancy himself a three-point shooter).
But the overall responsibilities of the Big Three are fairly obvious. It’s the duties of the supporting cast that also need to be underscored as pivotal facets to a Heat victory.
These role players had better step up in Game 2—or my prediction of the Heat in six is going down in flames.