Mario Chalmers lost his starting spot for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the latest blow during a stretch that he calls the most difficult of his career.
Ray Allen replaced Chalmers in the starting lineup. Chalmers had started every game that he had appeared in for the Heat since Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when he replaced Mike Bibby in the lineup.
An impending free agent, Chalmers prefers to return next season. That’s certainly not out of the question, but it would be surprising if the Heat doesn’t explore trying to upgrade at the position.
Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, veteran NBA guard Brandon Rush and former NBA guard Damon Jones all reached out to Chalmers in recent days, offering both encouragement but also a pointed message: “Stop playing passively.”
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Chalmers said he agrees that he has been playing passively but he said he also is cognizant of getting the ball to teammates.
He entered Game 5 having shot 5 for 18 in the Finals, with 14 assists and 10 turnovers.
The past few weeks have “been very tough, but it comes with the job,” he said. “My teammates have all been supportive. At times like this, you’ve got to perform. I’ve dealt with adversity before.”
Over the past few days, Chalmers has watched tape of some of his best moments as an NBA player, a reminder of what he is capable of.
“I’ve watched a couple of games — last year’s Finals, games earlier this year, playoff games over my six years,” he said. “It shows that you can do it. I’ve been in this situation before and I know what I can do at this level. Just got to keep believing in myself.”
This and that
, at peace with his decision to retire, said Saturday he did not expect to become emotional when he walked off the court for the final time. “I wasn’t emotional when I graduated from Duke or high school,” said Battier, who will become a college basketball analyst for ESPN. “I’ve enjoyed my career but there are other things I feel more strongly about.”
• The factDwyane Wade
missed so many regular season games (28) — including some on short notice — frustratedLeBron James
at times, who said Saturday (without mentioning Wade) that “in the regular season I got frustrated a lot because we have guys in and out of the lineup. I’m all about chemistry and habits, and it affected our team.
“There were guys that didn’t know if they were playing and it affected our team a little bit.”
• Despite having absolutely no inside information, that didn’t stop Houston Rockets forwardChandler Parsons
from telling ESPN this weekend that he expects James will leave the Heat.
“I think if they would’ve won the championship it would’ve been a different story and they would’ve came back to do it again,” Parsons said. “But he’s got so much responsibility. I think them losing will make him make a move and opt out, and you’ll see him in a different jersey next year. He’s done all he can do there and it’s time for him to move on. I could see him maybe going back to Cleveland.”
• Spurs players say one compliment they hear a lot is how aesthetically-pleasing their style of play is. “You hear it all over the place,” guardDanny Green
said. “Everyone is talking about well we move the ball. I’ve heard from [Pacers and former Spurs guard]George Hill
. He thinks we’re playing pretty well.”
• James entered Game 5 as one of only two players who has averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds when facing playoff elimination.Wilt Chamberlain
was the other.