Chalmers’ crisis of confidence contributes to Heat’s concerns


VIDEO: Mario Chalmers at the Heat’s shootaround the day of Game 3

MIAMI – Oh joy, Mario Chalmers soon might have LeBron James yelling at him again.

Actually, James offered that possibility with the very best of intentions, as a tactic to jar Chalmers – the Miami Heat’s often-irritating, widely criticized point guard – out of a confidence crisis here in The 2014 Finals.

Through three games, Chalmers was averaging 3.3 points, 3.0 assists and 3.0 turnovers in 23.4 minutes. He has been called for 12 fouls, including a flagrant 1 when he jammed his elbow into Tony Parker‘s ribs in Game 2. The sixth-year guard has taken 12 shots and missed nine of them, including four of his five from 3-point range.

Neither he nor backup Norris Cole has risen to the moment, not so much undermining what the Heat have tried to do but not making anything easy, either. Which is what the Miami point guards are expected to do, given their second or third level of responsibility in the team’s pecking order.

That’s why James was talking about going back to an old approach with Chalmers, who traditionally has been more of a kick-in-the-rear than pat-on-the-back guy.

“Obviously, it’s weighing on him,” James said Wednesday on the series off-day at AmericanAirlines Arena. “It’s in his head right now, I think. He hasn’t said much. … But he can’t lose confidence in himself.

“As a leader, I’m going to give him as much confidence as I can, and I’m going to stay on him. Maybe I need to get back on him like I used to do in the past, when you guys used to see me really get on him. I’ve kind of laid off of him. Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do.”

We’ve all seen that. It was as much a part of Heat culture in the Big 3 era – which Chalmers predated by two seasons, by the way – as LeBron’s headband/hairline watch and breathless updates on Dwyane Wade‘s knees. It was James or Wade or both airing out Chalmers for some on-court mistake, bossy big brothers pointing out their younger sibling’s mistakes.

Chalmers always took it, and the two Heat stars seemed to back off recently, either figuring he’d learned from their lessons or because they got tired of repeating themselves. The bottom line wasn’t bad, by the way: Four straight Eastern Conference titles, two consecutive championships with a shot now for a third.

But now Chalmers has regressed. He averaged 31.6 minutes in the 2013 Finals, along with 10.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.6 turnovers while shooting 38.8 percent overall and 40.6 from the arc. During an inconsistent 2013-14 season, his corresponding stats: 29.8 minutes, 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 45.4 percent shooting and 38.5 percent on 3FGs.

San Antonio has noticed, but just to be safe is treating any decline in Chalmers’ play as a fluke. “We know that when he has a big game, usually Miami wins,” Parker said Wednesday. “So he’s a big X-factor, and we talked about it. Coach [Gregg Popovich] challenged me to make sure I have big games defensively, because last year he had a couple of big games and they won those games.”

Chalmers and the Heat would happily take one such performance now.

“Yeah, we have trust in Rio,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I don’t want him to shoulder the full responsibility.”

Trouble is, Chalmers sounds as if he does. That and more, in fact, based on his impending free agency and the likelihood that his struggles now will hurt his market value more than his two rings boost it.

It doesn’t help that Chalmers is handling this different than his big brothers would. James, when feeling heat or a need to lock in, unplugs from social media and, lately, talks openly about his belief that he is the “easiest target in sports.” Chris Bosh does what he can to ignore criticism and tell himself it doesn’t matter.

But Chalmers goes home after Game 3 and stays up until 5 a.m., going over video of the three games so far in this Finals and parts of all seven of the 2013 edition.

“To figure out attacking points and what I’m doing wrong,” Chalmers told a few wave of reporters who found him during the Heat’s media availability Wednesday, far from the podiums or lecterns. He was seated near some Heat deep reserves in the bench area, obscured from view by the folks standing near him.

So what did Chalmers see that has been lacking? “Just my energy, really, that’s the main thing,” he said. “I need to bring more energy to the game. [Last year] I was disruptive on the defensive end, which led to more breaks on the offensive end, more opportunities.”

This year, Chalmers has mostly just fouled, a pest running into Spurs players in the open court in a bad habit he’s developed though the years. For a guy who has been described as cocky at times in his career, seeing and hearing how rattled he is is a bit disconcerting.

“This is one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever been through,”Chalmers said. “It’s actually very tough right now. But I’ve just got to keep believing. I know my teammates trust in me, the coaching staff trusts in me. I just have to keep believing in myself.”

Chalmer said Bosh, in particular, has tried to lift him out of his funk. “Sent me a text message [before Game 2] since I was on the first bus,” he said. “Y’know, ‘Let everything go. Stop thinking so much on the court and just play the basketball you’ve been playing your whole life.’ “

Easier quoted than done at this stage. As eager as his Heat cohorts are that Chalmers get going, the Spurs are committed to him sputtering.

James and Spoelstra talked for a while about Miami’s efforts to build up Chalmers, remind him of the good times and get him going within the team concept. Either it’s going to get better for him and his team or, with the series zipping by, it’s going to get worse.

“You can give a guy as much confidence as you want,” James said, “but when a guy loses confidence in himself, it can be all downhill.”

44 Comments

  1. lacrampa says:

    …. HAHAHAHaHAHAHAHAhaha

  2. lacrampa says:

    mario chalmers… HAHAHAHAhaAHHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahahaha

  3. jbl says:

    having crisis will definitely not give you and your king a ring..you should join the spurs or okc to be a hall of famer.

  4. Dee says:

    I am a Heat fan but the Spurs have exposed all our weaknesses.Out coached us by miles.Wade has not played well at all.Point Guard position has disappeared..To many brain lapses on a hold by the team.How do we correct this ,we cannot its to late but at least put up a fight in Game 5.1.Play Beasley,Oden, and Douglas.They has to be a shakeup what do they have to lose.Starting Five should be Oden,Bosh,James,Wade,Beasley…Bring Chalmers off the Bench.

    • Mike says:

      That’s crazy talk. If that’s your starting 5, the Spurs will have another 40+ 1st quarter, and the game will be over by halftime. Oden guarding Tim Duncan? Don’t make me laugh. Beasley guarding anyone? Don’t make me laugh. You want Chalmers to play the role of an impact player off the bench? He’s bad enough when he’s trying to make an impact at all.

      • Chris says:

        lol. Mike that is so true. You made my day though. I could not stop laughing at your comment but its so true though.

  5. jumppong says:

    where are these Morons saying that Mario Chalmers a hall of Fame? what a joke

  6. Xavier says:

    Beasley was hired for what? Last game he was in a suit and what’s the deal w/ Oden?

  7. BBall James says:

    The heat haven’t played to their real self, so dont blame Chalmers man. James isn’t stepping up like hes supposed to, and in Game 3, you couldn’t even really see Bosh. They all need to step up, and although Chalmers isn’t playing well, its not his fault. Spoelstra really needs to teach his team how to defend.

    Go heat! What a series

  8. Brad T says:

    I agree with Hunter, Chalmers is a role player! He is no where near being as good a point guard as most other teams starters, so you can’t have high expectations from him. Although zero points is pretty bad LOL

  9. Joe says:

    I like Chalmers Personally, but I don’t like his play…he is NOT consistent, and never has been, I would not only bench him but let him go, he is NOT heat material….He always looks scared when he is not playing well…doesn’t know what the hell he is doing…It’s not everybody getting into him so he plays better, they have been doing that for 3 years…don’t you think that enough is enough!!

  10. Umorlas says:

    !!What a joke…!! Miami won with Lebron and now had lost because of Chalmer. Lebron made 7 turnovers, but they have to blame someone else.

  11. ThreePeat says:

    The Heat announcer should yell “Mario Chaaaaaaaaaalmerrrrrssss” every 5 minutes to make sure he’s awake, lol.

  12. mihaisazic says:

    I would ignore the press. period.

    They are hired to create disconnect, conflict. A lot of people feed themselves with that, so that’s what they are fed.

    I would say to meditate

  13. SELLVA says:

    Chalmers – added weight to his body. may be his movement restricted

  14. kobeballhog says:

    Chalmers will bring downfall to the heat, he still makes more boneheaded plays than good plays, what’s waste

  15. nick says:

    i hope he gets injured

  16. jake s. says:

    Heat are old and young in the wrong ways. Their youth isn’t as talented, and their old isn’t as cerebral. lebron is the only thing keeping them in the running.

  17. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    I like Spoelstra, but he needs to trust his bench players. All this talk about how bad Chalmers and Cole has been, then why not give Tony Douglas a try ? Douglas is a veteran who can play lockdown Defense, it wont hurt to give him a try … And why not give Beasley a try ? I don’t understand why Beasley doesn’t play.
    Spoelstra has to trust his bench and go deeper.

    • james says:

      the reason i believe beasley doesnt play is because of the fact that hes an iso type player. he doesnt play well in our offense. that being said i think we could use him more when lebron isnt on the floor and let him get aggressive with our stars on the bench.

    • aces says:

      And don’t forget about Battier, he was an important piece in their 2 championships. I know he can give them more than James Jones gave last game

  18. cam says:

    chalmers is playing for his first big contract he needs to step up to at least his normal game it seems like the only stat he is padding is his fouls per minute played

  19. bballjunkie1 says:

    Charlmers has always been the weak link on the string. Can’t drive, afraid to go inside, and kick out. Dribbles precious seconds off of the clock, hardley looks to weak side where someone is waiting to shoot the three. Horrible on defense, most early fouls commited by him, miami stays in the penalty, and oh the unecessary turnovers. Now he is being exposed as bench player he should be.Lebron plays point anyway so why not play birdman, why not start cole, tony douglas maybe a jeremy lim waiting for his moment. you coach as if its the last game. Pop just did inserted Diaw, and Miami did nothing to counter, Lebron will have more than cramps if he doesnt get away from Spo u gave them 4 stabs at it, all were winable coaching was and will be the difference maker.

  20. fablins says:

    i love this chat !! the spurs fans are so Excited !!! in 1 week they ll disappear !! lets go heat !!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh you mean like how the Heat Fans disappeared in Game 3 at the fourth quarter with over three minutes left?

      No I’m not a Spurs fan, but I can respect their consistent and sustained excellence as a franchise throughout the years. Their fan base is loyal, will show up and stay, win or lose. In two Finals game, Game 6 last year and Game 3 this year, what did the Heat fans do?

  21. lbj-idiot says:

    Mario chalmers need to leave miami and join the spurs If he wants to win another ring.

    • Mike says:

      True, but Popovich would never have him. He’d take Parker, Mills and Joseph over Chalmers any day.

  22. lbj-idiot says:

    Mario chalmers should leave miami and join the spurs if he wants to win more rings.

  23. Hunter says:

    Chalmers is not the SOLE REASON for the Heat woes. He is a role player and is being targeted for blame because no one else knows who to blame without stirring drama. The heat team is obviously faced off with a more determined Spurs team than years past. If the Heat lose it wont be just because of Chalmers. This is their FOURTH straight finals trip, there is a lot of stuff going on.

    • Lovinthenba says:

      There setting it up if they loose the series. Blame it on chalmers… RIDICULOUS!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been harping on that point, the Heat in their fourth Finals, since last year. Yes they made it, something no teams has done since the 80s. There is a reason for that drought: it’s fatiguing to go to four straight Finals. The Lakers and Celtics were the last two teams to do it (Laker 82-85, Celtics 84-87). Still neither won all four finals. Each only won two of four. As athletic and talented the Heat are, they’re human. Lebron can only do so much to carry them and his teammates can only do so much to help. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  24. Mamba says:

    Why did they sign Greg Oden?

  25. Chalmers4 DA WIN says:

    CHALMERS IS BEAST

  26. Arizon says:

    With no disrespect, I have to say Mario must rest for the rest of the series. Mario has demonstrated lack of confidence in himself. On the defensive end he has been awful, committing unnecessary fouls. On the offensive side, he has been horrible missing uncontested shots, having alot of turnovers.Even Cole performance has not been impressive. Spoelstra cannot longer experiment on this duo. In this scenario, I kindly would suggest there is no need for these two guys. Le Bron or D.Wade can play the ball, giving Andersen more minutes as center, having Bosch as PF and keeping around Allen or Rachard as three pointers. That is the way to go.

  27. Required Name says:

    stop making Chalmers as an excuse!

  28. Max says:

    Goodness!Chalmers the Heat player at fault? What did WADE do that was GREAT?Heat was “out foxed” The high Switch in Spurs offense sent the Heat tumbling. Two Heat Players goes after the same Player! Now what did Chalmers do to cause that? Heat was 1/2 minute behind each offense play by the Spurs. It was like they were not communicating with each other. Chalmers WAS NOT the cause of how horrible the Heat played. Check out your film of Game 3. Heat looked liked Rabbits trying to stop the 3 pntrs by Leonard & Green. Stops by the Spurs way before getting to the offense basket. Heats as a whole just did NOT “CUT THE MUSTARD”!

    • No Regrets says:

      Agreed. You don’t lose by at home by 20 because of Chalmers, particularly when Parker hasn’t played well yet.

      • 305 says:

        no but shooting 0-5 is a possible 10 points and 3 t.o hurts. when a player is playing like that it affects the whole team. not saying spurs didnt shoot well cause history even says they did but chalmers only hurt us more.

  29. cp10 says:

    Get some sleep! Mario Chaaaaalmersssss…