NBA Finals 2011: Mario Chalmers Is the Miami Heat's X-Factor Against Mavericks

Peter HillCorrespondent IIJune 9, 2011

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07:  Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat reacts in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 7, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Mario Chalmers has easily surpassed his expectations as a second round pick in 2008. Viewed as "just another player" alongside the Big Three, Chalmers has proved to critics he is much more than that.

Once the Heat acquired Mike Bibby after the trade deadline, many assumed that Chalmers would be an afterthought in Miami's rotation. Not only has Chalmers emerged himself as the best point guard on the team, the former Kansas standout now routinely plays over 20 minutes per game.

Chalmers' defense, quick hands, basketball IQ, clutch shooting and athleticism make him an asset for the Heat.

Now in the Finals, Chalmers finds himself as the ever important "X" factor for Miami. With Mike Miller seemingly hurt on every inch of his body, guys like Chalmers need to step up.

Chalmers is great defensively around the ball. He guards players like Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea on a regular basis.

Though Chalmers might not hold those players to low point totals, his defensive awareness makes him valuable. Chalmers uses his instincts to poke out the ball from players hands, normally causing a turnover and a fast break.

Chalmers has notched five steals so far in this series, just a few behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Though Chalmers is mainly used for his defense and instincts to steal the ball, Mario has been a viable scoring option for the Heat.

With so much attention being paid to the Big Three, players like Chalmers are left wide open for threes.

Not only is Mario left open for threes, when he makes them the Heat win. In the four games played in this series so far, the Heat have won every time Chalmers scores 10 points or more.

In a three point loss to Dallas in Game 4, Chalmers went 0-3 from downtown, showing how important his stroke is.

Look for Miami to look for Chalmers more often, especially since they need his outside shots to fall.