We’ve all heard the term X-factor before.
Whether it’s people eating bugs, the eighth batter in a baseball lineup hitting a grand slam or a bench player hitting timely shots to help his team win the game, X-factors are needed in most platforms to achieve success and win games. Why would the 2012 NBA Finals be any different?
It might be different because the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are loaded with high quality talent, but they’re still there.
Since the Heat have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, all players who can be a go-to-guy, the X-factor is the fourth best player on the team instead of the usual third and sometimes second. The Thunder are no different since they have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Again, we have to go four deep to find the player who must step up to help his team win.
I’ve wrote in many posts and told many friends and colleagues that the Heat could be in trouble because they’re not deep. However, if their X-factor can be productive in not one game but for most of the season, there is no reason why they can’t win the 2012 NBA Championship.
With that said, Mario Chalmers has to step up.
He can hit clutch shots, such as he did in the Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 against the Boston Celtics as he scored 22 points and maintained his team when it seemed like the game could get out of control.
Chalmers has shown he can defend. His assignment against Rajon Rondo was a little difficult, but it is for every point guard in the league. On the other hand, he didn’t allow the Indiana Pacers’ George Hill or Darren Collison to do much in the semifinals. The Heat’s starting point guard is fast enough and has good enough footwork to stay in front of his man while also maintaining a key eye for passing lines to disrupt opponents ball movement.
If the Heat’s point guard is matched up with Westbrook, his defensive play WILL make or break the series. No one can contain Westbrook, but to limit him could mean a NBA ring for him and his teammates.
The Heat need him to do all of the above and much more.
Miami has an offensive problem sometimes in which no one moves because James or Wade has the ball. This is the perfect time for Chalmers to run his man through a screen and pop out for a three pointer or a mid-range jumper. The defense will more than likely be hitched to the guy with the ball and will leave Chalmers alone, relatively.
This would obviously be his opportunity to show he can knock down big shots and that he is a vocal point of this celebrated team.
The man the Thunder should get going fast and often is Serge Ibaka.
He is a dynamic athlete who can do just about anything he wants to around the basket after he has the ball. If he isn’t in the low post, okay, he can step out and hit his improved 18-foot jump shot.
Defensively, I could tell readers everything he can do, but if your reading this, you already know: he is a defensive monster. Ibaka was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. The man can jump out of the gym and closes in on large spaces faster than anyone I’ve seen in quite some time.
While Chalmers needs to be aggressive to get the attention of Westbrook and Sefolosha to aide Wade in heating up, Ibaka needs to crash the paint and challenge Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem in the paint. If Anthony and Haslem get into foul trouble, the Heat are struck because they don’t have any other bigs who can play solid defense. Sorry Bosh, this includes you.
Both X-Factors are great athletes and can be explosive. If they don’t show up, their team is going to have to heavily rely on its three main guys.
Nothing helps win a championship by being productive and lessening the load on the star’s shoulders.