A: Or the Heat could win three of the next four games and then the discussion becomes how Micky Arison can't allow the luxury tax to rip this team apart. This Heat team certainly has been different than last season's team. On its worst days, this Heat team has played some stinkers. But on its best, it still is elite, very elite. Now the question is which version shows up Thursday.
A: Such is the Mario Chalmers Experience. And the thing is, there rarely are "many average ones." For the most part, he's either been very good, or very not so good. Ultimately, we're all just along for the ride. It's who he is.
JUNE 11, 2013
Q: Do you think Mike Miller's play will cause Heat to re-consider (assuming they already considered) amnestying him in offseason? He is very skilled player that can do so much more than just shoot (even though he is great shooter). -- Jeffrey.
A: The issue is not as much Mike as his salary. As long as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are around, he will never be more than a reserve behind two big-minutes regulars. Beyond that, his $6.2 million and $6.6 million salaries essentially triple (perhaps even more) under the more-punitive luxury tax that is about to go into effect. The only way Mike, in his current break-open-in-case-of-emergency role, makes sense is if the Heat can get below the luxury tax. Now, should the Heat sell off one of their higher salaries, which is why you're hearing all the Chris Bosh rumors, then keeping Miller and perhaps adding another mid-level player would make sense. I'm just not sure you can afford, in these tax times, to pay a player mid-level money for one or two weeks a season, even if some of that payoff comes in the playoffs.
Q: Why are we still playing the Finals in a 2-3-2 format when, except for when the Lakers are up, there isn't nearly as much travel as there used to be when it was Celtics-Lakers every year? -- Norman.
A: I agree. With the stakes this high, there should not be a concession to travel or inconvenience. And based on some of the Monday travel follies of those trying to get from Miami to San Antonio (other than those on the team flights), an argument could be made that it could be easier to get from South Florida to the West Coast than Miami to San Antonio. If the highest level of competition is the league's true goal (it isn't), then all rounds of the postseason should be contested in the same manner, in the 2-2-1-1-1.
Q: This might be a stretch, but could Mario Chalmers improve enough to be the next Tony Parker or Rajon Rondo? Wade is getting old and is often injured. We sure need a second consistent scorer and playmaker, and Mario thus far has been invaluable. -- Ryan.
A: I simply don't think Mario offers the type of consistency to be counted upon as a definitive No. 2 option. Yes, he can be very good. But he also can be very not so good. Playing as a complementary player is the perfect fit.
JUNE 10, 2013
Q: Forget everything else about his game, the 3-pointers, the 19 points, making all of his free throws: Mario Chalmers played without a turnover and the Heat only had six. Is that what this series will come down to, turnovers? -- Mark.
A: I don't think it's that simple. I think Tim Duncan will be more efficient at home, the Spurs perhaps getting a more beneficial whistle if they get into attack mode. But Mario was efficient, as was almost the entire Heat roster, with three starters (Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh and Chalmers) playing without a turnover in Game 2. Much of that has to do with the Spurs making LeBron James their overwhelming focus, but even he only had two on Sunday night. Still, I wouldn't overstate Mario's lack of a turnover, considering had closed with two assists, compared to seven for LeBron, six from Dwyane Wade and even four from Bosh. Basically, it was an efficient effort across the board from the Heat.
Q: Just like you said, it is the team that can impose their will that will win the series. The Heat need to do this three more times in the next five games. -- Stuart.
A: The one thing about the Heat is that once they get the scent of victory, they tend to go in for the kill. Having LeBron will do that for you, as well. They were not themselves in Game 1, but something far closer in Game 2. But don't sell short on Gregg Popovich and the adjustments that could arrive in Game 3.
Q: Shane Battier hit a three! The serious is over! -- Eric.
A: I felt good for Shane that even in garbage-time minutes he was able to do that. But it has become clear that the minutes, at this stage, are for Mike Miller to lose. It's almost as if Erik Spoelstra waited until this moment to unleash Miller's energy, after allowing Shane to get beat to a pulp in power rotations through the first three rounds against the likes of Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Boozer and David West. Shane deserved a moment. Perhaps that three restores some of the clearly lost confidence.