Don’t Blame it on Rio: Chalmers provides spark in Game 4 vs Nets

Elsa

On a night when LeBron James’ 49-point outburst dominated the game’s headlines as well as the Brooklyn defense, Heat guard Mario Chalmers quietly and confidently may have been Miami’s second-best player

My brother-in-law and I have a catchphrase we exchange via text when that inevitable boneheaded play - the ill-advised pass, the Oscar-worthy flop or the exasperating defensive breakdown - will invariably be provided by the Heat's starting point guard on a nightly basis.

We call it "getting Chalmered."

On a night when LeBron James crushed Brooklyn's postseason hopes, Chris Bosh provided the ultimate "Ka-bosh!" from the corner and Ray Allen iced the game at the free throw line, Mario may have been the game's unsung hero.

Mario Chamers can be a maddening combination of false confidence, clutch shooting and, typically, a gambling personality that can lead to the slapping of one's own forehead in utter disbelief. But despite what seem like rather pedestrian numbers, his performance in Game 4 was a huge factor in Miami's 102-96 victory.

The Heat's offense was bogged down in the Nets' half-court mire, a stark contrast to Miami's usual flowing, fast-break offense. James was the ultimate version of himself, getting to the rim with relative ease, shooting from distance and truly imposing his will on Brooklyn. And while Dwyane Wade's statistical output (15 points on 7-of-13 shooting) appears more significant, Chalmers' 8 points (including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc) and 7 assists were far more crucial to Miami's attempt to claw their way out of the sludge.

Chalmers' first shot of the game was a corner 3-pointer, the result of LeBron's pass out of the low post to Wade at the top of the key, who swung the ball to Shane Battier before hitting Mario in perfect stride. Chalmers was calling for the ball even as James worked his way into the paint; to get rewarded with the pass, and eventual made field goal, would undoubtedly pay dividends later in the game.

In fact, with the exception of James, no other player was as willing or able to drive toward the rim as Chalmers. While he was only able to connect on 1-of-4 forays into the painted area, he kept the Brooklyn defense honest. And, upon reviewing video of each attempt, the shots were all very makeable, rimming out unexpectedly. His one completed attempt was a memorable one, a monster dunk as the first half was winding down.

Chalmers' second 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter was crucial, with Miami down by a point and with Brooklyn gaining that confidence that has made them such a difficult opponent for Miami. Allen drove the lane, only to be met by multiple defenders. As Allen appeared to slip to the ground, the ball bounced - whether intentionally or not is impossible to determine - to a wide-open Chalmers in the corner. Splash. The Heat was now up 2.

Mario's passing was even better than his timely shooting. With the exception of his first assist, a pass to James that was shot casually for his first points of the game, each of Chalmers' passes was delivered with pinpoint accuracy and resulted in key baskets. A quick touch-lob to an open Battier under the rim. Finding James under the hoop for a basket and, seconds later, hitting a cutting Wade for a dunk. Hitting Bosh for a mid-range jumper.

And, lost in the thrill of Bosh's incredible 3-pointer, was that it came off an assist from Chalmers, as seen here:


After the game, Chalmers admitted to the Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnik that he'd considered taking the shot himself (via Twitter):


Thankfully, Mario showed a little maturity and made the smarter decision to find his open teammate. And, at least for one night, the Heat avoided getting Chalmered and comes back to Miami ready to close out the series.

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