Without even knowing whom the Miami Heat will face in the 2014 NBA Finals, one player in particular already knows he is going to have to have a big series on both sides of the ball against their Western Conference opponent in order to win four more games and snatch their third consecutive title. No, that player isn’t LeBron James. It is the Heat’s starting point guard, Mario Chalmers.
Looking at a potential match-up between either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs, one thing is certain; Mario Chalmers is going to have his hands full defensively. Chalmers will be going up against either Tony Parker or Russell Westbrook; both point guards are arguably in the top five of their position. Both players can take over a game offensively, and even carry their respective teams on their backs when no else is making shots. A large part of this is due to most guards in the league not being able to defend these elite players. Chalmers has always been a moderate defender, but he will have to step up the intensity on that side of the ball in order to slow down Parker or Westbrook from making a huge impact in the series.
On the flip-side of this, Chalmers is a good offensive player, capable of creating his own shots, or draining open looks from movement off the ball. Westbrook is clearly the better defender between both him and Parker, so depending on the match-up, Chalmers could either be looking at a lock-down defender (Westbrook) or an older veteran who has lost a step on the defensive end (Parker). Either way, Chalmers will need to hit a high percentage of his shots in order to balance out the point guard scoring differential between both teams.
In terms of wins and losses, the impact always falls on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh’s shoulders for the Heat, but how Chalmers performs throughout the Finals will make or break this three-peat quest. His impact on both sides of the ball is so important at this stage of the playoffs, because the Heat’s next opponent will have a point guard that is a top player on their team. Chalmers will need to start playing like he believes he is one for the Heat too.
Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for RantSports.com.
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