NBA Finals notebook | Heat

Mario Chalmers struggles with turnovers, fouls in Game 1 of NBA Finals

 
 
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, left, gives guard Mario Chalmers a pat on the sideline against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on June 5, 2014.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, left, gives guard Mario Chalmers a pat on the sideline against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on June 5, 2014.
Eric Gay / AP
WEB VOTE Has the Spurs' Game 1 win been tainted by the AC malfunction and LeBron James' leg cramps?

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

Mario Chalmers said his ball-handling responsibilities — always less than the traditional point guard — have been reduced somewhat in these playoffs, to the point where he is “just trying to figure out where I fit in right now.”

Regardless, the Heat needs a more efficient, productive Chalmers than the one who was turnover- and foul-prone in Game 1 of the Finals.

“Everybody knew I was frustrated with the foul trouble I got into early,” Chalmers said Friday. “When I got back in the game, I was trying to press too much. I’ve got to be more patient in my pick and rolls, and try to find more gaps.”

Limited to 17 minutes by foul trouble, Chalmers committed five turnovers and finished with one assist and three points. Tony Parker, who was outscored by Chalmers in the final two games of last year’s Finals, thoroughly outplayed him Thursday, with 19 points and twice as many assists (eight) as turnovers.

“I’ve got to be careful with my touch fouls,” Chalmers said. “I get a lot of touch fouls; got to figure out a way to adjust to the referees.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Chalmers “needs to be more attentive to technique and [quicker] in his thought process.”

Chalmers’ 2.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the postseason is slightly better than his regular-season ratio, but his scoring average is down from 9.8 to 6.8. By comparison, he averaged 11.3 and 9.4 points in the past two postseasons.

That is largely a result of taking fewer shots. Chalmers averaged 9.0 field-goal attempts per game during the Heat’s 2011-12 title run and 8.0 last postseason.

During these playoffs, that number has plunged to 5.8. Chalmers is shooting well from three-point territory (40.5 percent) but has taken only 37, compared with 92 and 68 over the previous two postseasons.

“The shot is always open, so you’re supposed to shoot those shots,” he said. But “I’ve got to keep my teammates involved.”

Chalmers said there is “nothing injury-wise, nothing personal” that’s affecting him, but he indicated he’s still adjusting to a subtle change that Spoelstra made.

“I don’t think I’m handling as much as I was [in] previous playoffs,” he said. “But it’s something coach made an adjustment to. I’ve got to figure out a way to be effective.”

Shane Battier reiterated Thursday that when Chalmers “plays well, we play well. When he takes care of the ball, we’re a markedly better team. Turnovers were an issue [for him in Game 1]. There wasn’t the crispness we needed. Against Parker, when you are not dialed in, it makes for a long night.”

WADE SPEAKS OUT

Spoelstra played nine players in Game 1, opting not to use Udonis Haslem, among others, and Dwyane Wade said that must change.

“We’ve got to go a little deeper into our bench,” he said. “I look forward to us using more guys next game, keep guys fresher. I feel part of our downfall in [Game 1] was mental and physical fatigue down the stretch.”

• The Heat is 12-0 after its past 12 postseason losses. Also, the Heat lost the first game in each of the past two Finals — against Oklahoma City and San Antonio — but went on to win both series.

•  Chris Bosh and Battier laughed when informed that Jonathan Martin, who quit the Dolphins midway through last season, tweeted during the game about LeBron James: “C’mon bruh. Drink a Gatorade and get out there.”

Said Battier: “Everyone’s got an opinion.”

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