The Miami Heat may have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but without its cast of role players, the Heat surely wouldn’t stand as the overwhelming favorites to repeat as champions in roughly a month.
The “other guys” on Miami’s roster have come up big for the Heat all season.
And with the stakes at their highest point, there have been several rotation players who have risen up above the rest for the Heat throughout this year’s playoff action.
This is why Miami signed Ray Allen, the league’s all-time leader in three-point buckets.
He may have had his rough patches throughout the season as he adjusted to his new surroundings, but any doubts that once surrounded the former Boston Celtic are now long gone.
Allen is currently averaging just over 25 minutes per contest in the postseason, and he’s making those minutes count.
Currently shooting roughly 39 percent from beyond the arch, he’s Miami’s second-leading scorer, thus far, this postseason, averaging 14.3 points per game. On top of his scoring, Allen is hauling in an average of three rebounds per game, while also providing his steady touch at the charity stripe, having missed just one free throw.
And don’t discount the veteran’s leadership and influence both on the court and in the locker room.
Chris Andersen may only be averaging about 14 minutes per game, but there’s little doubt the “Birdman” has been a huge asset for the Heat throughout these playoffs.
Andersen has been efficient on the court, shooting 78 percent from the field, while pulling down an average of four rebounds per game.
He’s also averaging a block per contest.
But, more than anything, Andersen’s impact for Miami isn’t something that can be measured by statistics and numbers.
Rather, it’s the energy he brings on a nightly basis. It’s the rough, watchdog mentality he provides when opponents go after Miami’s superstars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Andersen is Miami’s “enforcer”, if you will.
And as a team that has lacked the tough gene for the past few years, Andersen’s brash play and gritty nature has been welcomed with open arms by the Heat organization.
He’s surely not the most productive player each night for Miami, but there’s little doubt he’s become essential to this team’s quest for a second straight title.
Heat fans have known Norris Cole can play for a while now.
The Cleveland State standout has been productive for Miami from the moment he set foot in Miami’s organization, perhaps providing a glimpse of the future if Mario Chalmers is one day no longer with the club.
Cole has always been a spark plug off the bench for the Heat. He’s been a solid backup for Chalmers, who has been known to have his moments—both good and bad—throughout his time in the league.
But through Miami’s first seven postseason games, Cole has looked like more than a quality backup.
While it might be premature to call the second-year point guard a budding star, it would certainly seem as though Cole could be heading toward that status.
He’s connected on 10 of his 13 attempts from three-point land, including a perfect 8-of-8 against the Chicago Bulls.
He’s hit big shots.
He’s freed up Miami’s offense when it’s gone stagnant.
In short, Cole has done everything asked of him and more—much more.
Cole’s biggest moment came in Miami’s most recent action, arguably carrying the Heat for much of Game 3 while LeBron James struggled to generate his usual offense from the field.
Scoring 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor, Cole came up with a bucket nearly every time Miami needed one most.
And the Bulls, who are known for their elite defensive play, have seemingly had no answer for Cole.
Whether it’s hitting open threes in the corner, driving to the hoop or even creating his own shot, Cole has done it all for the Heat throughout these playoffs.