The Heat and their role players seem to be getting the hang of things.
Posted by Matt Moore
Mario Chalmers: +16
Zydrunas Ilgauskas: +2
James Jones: +8
And with that, we begin to see a flickering hope for the Heat. During this six game win streak, the Heat largely pounded their way to victory. But against a quality opponent in the Jazz, they finally seemed to break out and play a game worthy of their hype, at least when it mattered as they won going away in the fourth quarter behind a stellar performance from the Big 3 (75 combined points). But perhaps more notably, we've begun to see life from the role players for the Heat who so often failed them in the beginning of this year.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas doesn't have to be dynamic. By that I mean he doesn't have to have footwork, shake moves, pump fakes or complexity in anything on offense. He just has to hit the mid-range jumper on the pick and pop and a few tip-ins. That's it. In doing so, he keeps the defense honest and punishes them from helping too much on perimeter penetration. On defense he doesn't have to swoop in for huge blocks or take impressive charges. He just has to do is be tall and be a tree you can't swing the football through. That's it. And when that happens, things go much better for the Heat.
Mario Chalmers had about the most Mario-Chalmers-esque night possible. He logged two steals, one of which resulted in a turnover when he lost his dribble on a breakaway layup. But it was his perimeter speed and intensity that helped him get minutes, finally, while Carlos Arroyo kept failing to maintain position or capitalize on plays. Again, it wasn't that Chalmers was particularly good, but in large part the Heat don't need someone to produce,they need someone to put the effort in which forces the defense to adjust and opens things up for the guys who matter: the Big 3.
James Jones hit 2 of 3 three-pointers. That's pretty much all he has to do.
All the talk from supporters of the Heat was that the team needed time to gel. While the loss of Udonis Haslem will continue to haunt the team, Mike Miller returns soon. And in the meantime, their role players have begun to give cohesive efforts as a total unit. It's not about Mario Chalmers playing better than Carlos Arroyo or James Jones better than Eddie House. It's about the entire unit giving enough support on both sides of the ball to simply allow the talent of the Big 3 to overwhelm the opponent in order to win the game.
And beyond the hype, the stats, the Decision, or anything else, that's all that matters. That's what divides derision from highlight packages. Winning.
And it looks like the Heat are getting the hang of it.