Heat notebook

Chalmers was an early riser

His offense helped team stay afloat

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 31, 2012
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MIAMI - When no one else could score for the Heat in their 115-111 overtime win over the Celtics Wednesday night - and that included LeBron James and Dwyane Wade - there was Mario Chalmers.

Chalmers was hitting shots while the others missed. He was keeping his team afloat in Game 2 of the series, with Wade not making his first basket until there were fewer than 30 seconds left in the first half.

Chalmers was the secondary player with the touch, the one who augmented the stylings of James and Wade and provided the offense necessary to keep pace with the Celtics early.

There were jumpers and key threes. There were drives to the hoop.

“I just tried to pick up the slack,’’ said Chalmers, who finished with 22 points. “We needed an energy boost. That’s my job for this team, is to provide energy and do all the little things. I was able to get loose tonight, and it kept going.’’

Chalmers averaged 9.8 points per game in the regular season, finishing third on the team in scoring. He had more than 20 points just twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs, putting up 25 in a loss to the Pacers.

He added six assists and four rebounds in his 45 minutes in Game 2.

The Heat got a boost from Shane Battier in their Game 1 win with his 10 points, but they have no scorer after the Big Two that they can count on right now, not with Chris Bosh still out. So it’s a game-to-game process of finding an offensive threat that night.

This time the honors went to Chalmers, with an assist from Udonis Haslem and his 13-point, 11-rebound double-double off the bench.

“He kept us afloat, stepped it up, made some big shots,’’ James said of Chalmers. “He gave us a lift. He gave us the third punch that we needed. He played a great game.’’

By the end of the game, though, the Celtics were sagging off Chalmers. The preference was that Chalmers beat them, rather than James or Wade.

Chalmers scored 14 of his points in the first half, and just 3 in the fourth quarter and overtime. But he had kept the Heat in the game until James and especially Wade, could figure out their games.

“Mario did a great job,’’ Celtics guard Keyon Dooling said. “Mario has been phenomenal for them all year. He has been extremely underrated in my opinion.

“He is a very good complementary player for those slashers.’’

A real pro

Battier arrived this season from Memphis, and the veteran was tasked with defending, toughness, and an occasional offensive outburst.

“The thing that everybody talks about is his professionalism, how detail-oriented he is, how much he’s into the numbers, which I think is fantastic,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. “But you can throw all that out the window if you don’t have his level of toughness.

“He is a tough hombre. He really is. He competes at this game as hard as anybody I’ve been around. I think that’s what separates him.’’

Battier’s double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in Game 1 came as a surprise to almost everyone. It was a performance that was needed in the wake of Bosh’s absence because of an abdominal injury.

Battier said after the game he didn’t think he’d had 10 rebounds in about three years. That wasn’t exactly right, but it had been more than a year, since March 5, 2011.

“Shane is everything, man,’’ Wade said after Game 1. “He does it all for our team. I know me and LeBron, we love Shane Battier on this ball club. Not only his defensive effort, he does all the little things. He’s pesky. He gets under other guys’ skin a little bit. He does a great job of blocking out.’’

Zoned in

The Heat were ready for the Celtics to throw some zone defense at them in Game 2. It’s not something new for Miami.

“We expect it,’’ Spoelstra said. “We expect it all. After last season, we knew coming into the season that everybody would at least throw it out there at some point.’’

The coach said the Heat have spent the season playing against “extensive zone, extensive switches, anything else you can think of to junk it up.’’ That has let the team become more comfortable against the zone, he said.

Three and easy

The Heat hit 10 3-pointers, going 10 for 26 from beyond the arc . . . The Heat outscored the Celtics in the paint, 40-30, and on the fast break, 18-10 . . . Spoelstra’s pregame news conference lasted approximately 45 seconds. The coach was asked one question, about Bosh, and that was it. Bosh went through more rehab on Wednesday before Game 2, but is still not close to playing . . . Game 2 was Wade’s 100th career postseason game . . . The 11 points allowed in Game 1 was a Heat postseason record for a first quarter, surpassing the 12 they gave up to Chicago May 22, 1997, and to Detroit May 25, 2006 . . . Spoelstra has found new praise for Rajon Rondo in each of his news conferences. Before Wednesday’s game, he called Rondo a “brilliant playmaker,’’ and said the point guard “deserves the respect of the full kitchen sink, everything that we have’’ defensively to stop him. One only wonders what he’ll say after Rondo’s 44-point, 53-minute Game 2.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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