Biggest Unsung Heroes During Miami Heat's Historic Win Streak
The Miami Heat have made their way to a 23-game winning streak, the second-longest in NBA history, and it's been more than just LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. There have been some unsung heroes along the way.
James is dominating, as usual, Bosh is scoring and spreading the floor and Wade is providing a solid No. 2 option.
Elsewhere, Ray Allen is sinking three-pointers, Udonis Haslem is throwing around his body and playing defense and Norris Cole is providing a solid backup point guard off the bench.
Three players, however, have really stepped up over the course of the past 23 games.
Chalmers has always been the little brother of LeBron, Wade and Bosh. They yell at him when he does something bad and rib him when he does something good.
However, over the past month-and-a-half, Chalmers is having a terrific stretch.
He's getting to the rim, continuing to shoot three-pointers at the best clip of his career and his defense has been on point.
Whether he's fighting over screens more aggressively, forcing his man to the outside rather than giving him a look at the lane, or just closing out more quickly, it seems like Chalmers has turned the corner on defense.
It's a stretch to call him one of the better defensive point guards in the league, but he's been incredibly solid for the past six weeks.
Call him a lucky charm, but the real impact that Chris Andersen has had since being signed by the Miami Heat is giving them the presence of another athletic big man.
After getting to know the Denver Nuggets' bench personally near the end of last season, it seemed as if that would be curtains for the Birdman, but the Heat gave him a shot a few days before this streak started and they've been rolling along ever since.
Andersen has since been rejuvenated, giving the Heat stretches at center in which he's everywhere.
Offensively he's actually turned into a bit of a threat at times, scoring in stretches off the pass from Wade or James following penetration. His solid hands and sure-footedness when he's got a lane make him the perfect off-ball center for the Heat.
He's more agile than Joel Anthony and has the perfect body to give Haslem or Bosh a quick rest.
Above anyone else, Shane Battier has been out of his mind for the past 23 games.
Looking at his stat line before February 3rd, you'll see two very different players.
Before the 3rd, Battier was averaging 5.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and a combined 1.4 blocks and steals, all while shooting 36.2 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from the three-point line.
After the 3rd, Battier is averaging 7.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and a combined 1.1 blocks and steals, shooting 53.9 percent from the field and an astonishing 53.3 percent from the three-point line.
Most baffling is that almost nothing has changed. He's taking the same number of shots, playing the same number of minutes and getting the same looks. He's just put his game together.
Not only that, but his defense has exploded. His feet are quicker, his hands are everywhere and he's still the same deadly, cerebral player that he's always been.
If this is the Battier that sticks around for the playoffs, then the Heat can go ahead and plan for that second-straight championship.
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