The topic of conversation at Heat shootaround Tuesday kind of went like this according to rookie Josh Richardson: Did you see what Rio did last night for Memphis?
Mario Chalmers, whom the Heat traded to Memphis along with James Ennis last week, exploded for 29 points in 23 minutes for the Grizzlies in a win over Oklahoma City. Naturally, his Heat teammates said they were happy to see him do well.
“Proud big bro I am,” Dwyane Wade tweeted after Monday’s game at Chalmers. “Way to take that champion swagger to Memphis lil bro.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra said he watched highlights of the game and was happy for Chalmers.
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“You build friendships, relationships with guys that you’ve worked with for a long period of time that extends past the basketball court,” Spoelstra said before Tuesday’s game. “I said it before: I care very much about Rio and want him to do well.”
Team president Pat Riley said the Heat traded Chalmers, who was making $4.5 million this season, in large part to help clear up a crowded backcourt situation.
Since being acquired, Chalmers has helped the Grizzlies go 3-0. He’s averaging 18.7 points, shooting 52.2 percent and is plus-21 on the court. He has scored 56 points in 61 minutes off the bench.
“I feel like I’m being me again,” Chalmers told NBA TV.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside said he’s not surprised to see Chalmers thriving.
“Just because you go to a new situation doesn’t mean it’s going to be worse,” Whiteside said. “I didn’t tell him anything [after Monday’s performance] because there’s nothing really to talk about. I know what he can do. I don’t need to congratulate him. He’s a great NBA player. It [doesn’t] surprise me at all.”
The Heat host the Grizzlies on Dec. 13 and play at Memphis on Dec. 29.
If you have not noticed, Chris Bosh has been wearing a wrap around his left thumb over the past five or six games. But it’s not because he’s hurt.
“I just thought it was cool,” Bosh said Monday after practice. “I started making shots so I kept it.”
So is the wrap working? The numbers support Bosh’s theory.
Through his first four games, Bosh shot 37.7 percent from the field (20 of 53) and 36.8 percent from three-point range (7 of 19). Entering Tuesday, Bosh hadn’t shot worse than 43.8 percent in a game since the wrap was put on and was shooting 50.6 percent (38 of 75) from the field and 40.9 percent (9 of 22) from three-point range.
“I’ve been making shots, right?” Bosh responded when asked if he was serious about the wrap being the key to his improved shooting. “I’m going to keep doing it.”
Other than the Knicks, the Heat entered Tuesday’s game as the only other team in the Eastern Conference not to have at least three starters averaging 30 minutes or more.
Bosh is playing a team-leading 32.4 minutes per game, second-fewest of his career. Point guard Goran Dragic is barely over 30 minutes at 30.6 (the fewest since he became a regular starter in 2010-2011).
Dwyane Wade, 33, is averaging a career-low 28.7 — three minutes fewer per game than the 31.8 he averaged last year, which was his lowest average until now.
Spoelstra said the benefit of the early extra rest will show itself as the year goes on. In the immediate sense, though, fewer minutes for Miami’s starters has allowed Wade and Bosh to go hard when they are in there. It’s the same for Whiteside and Luol Deng, Miami’s best defenders.
“For the most part I know I’m going to play about 30 minutes a game,” Wade said. “So it allows me to be on attack mode for those minutes I’m in. It definitely helps. Some years I was playing 38, 39 minutes a game. With all this rest, it feels like there is a couple [of those] minutes I can get back.”