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NBA Finals 2012: Heat Players Who Must Step Up To Finish off Thunder

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 17:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat looks on in the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder  in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2012

The Miami Heat took control of the NBA Finals with a victory in Game 3, but they shouldn't expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to go down without a fight. While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have held up their end of the bargain, they will need help to finish the series.

With that in mind, here's a look at three players who will need to raise their level of play for the Heat to live up to the hype and win a championship. Getting those final two wins will be the toughest test yet for James, Wade and Co.

 

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07:  Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat reacts in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics  in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 7, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER:
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Mario Chalmers

Despite playing nearly 40 minutes in each of the past two games, Chalmers has scored just five points on 2-of-15 shooting with four assists. That's not good enough for a starting point guard, especially when the Thunder have Russell Westbrook.

The most important thing Chalmers has to do moving forward is create more open looks for James and Wade. The two superstars are basically having to create all of their own offense right now, and you have to believe the Thunder are getting closer to slowing that down.

In that respect, Chalmers should start serving more as a pure point guard. Since it's clear his shooting stroke is a little bit off right now, he should focus on setting his teammates up and improving his assist-to-turnover ratio.

 

Chris Bosh

Bosh has always been viewed as Miami's third wheel, but the biggest issue has been his willingness to accept that role instead of trying to assert himself as a third superstar. He's averaging just 12 points per game since returning from injury last series.

The team's most talented big man is shooting just 36 percent from the field in the series. There will be a game or two during the remaining games when James or Wade are having an off night; Bosh will need to fill the scoring void.

Talent isn't an issue. It all comes down to aggressiveness. Bosh has to enter the remaining games with a warrior's mentality. If he becomes a more reliable third scorer, the Thunder will struggle mightily to stop all of Miami's weapons.

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 14:  Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat reacts in the first half in front of Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the 2012 NBA Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 14, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Udonis Haslem

Oklahoma City has attempted to play Miami-style basketball for the first three games, and it hasn't worked out too well. Don't be surprised if the Thunder employ a more physical style in Game 4 as they search for a way to slow down the Heat.

If that's indeed the route they decide to go, Haslem's presence will become vital. He's scored just 12 points in the series while receiving limited playing time, but the veteran is the most prepared forward on the roster to adapt to physicality.

Even though he's lost some of his explosiveness over the years, Haslem still plays solid defense and rebounds. Those are the type of players that often get overlooked when the season ends, but it's nearly impossible to win titles without them.

 

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