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NBA Finals Heat-Thunder Game 4: Revenge of the little brother

Jun 20, 2012, 2:20 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Four

In the NBA Finals last year, Mario Chalmers hit a huge three to give the Heat the lead late vs. Dallas. It was supposed to be his moment. Finally, finally, he would be accepted, respected, celebrated. It would be about him, and his game, his shot. It was not. A blown rotation and an answer from Dallas and the series had shifted for the final time. That was the game where everything ended for Miami, when you look back.

The Heat could have moved on from Chalmers this year, could have opted to go in a different direction. They stuck with the guy they’ve come to know as “little brother.” And in Game 4 vs. Oklahoma City, it paid off. Chalmers scored 25 points on 9-15 shooting and the Heat pulled away for a 104-98 victory, going up 3-1 in the Finals.

In every playoff series, there are what I call “You have to be kidding me” guys. Players who a team’s fans know as guys who can hit big shots, make big plays, who are playing well under the radar. Players who the other team’s fans have no expectation of anything positive from. When they deliver, those fans are left screaming “You have to be kidding me!” as a player they never feared hits big shot after big shot. Shane Battier was that player for three games. In Game 4, it was Mario Chalmers.

What’s maybe even more stunning is that Chalmers did it without just hitting open 3’s on the catch-and-shoot. He was going to the rim. He sped past defenders (including Kevin Durant for much of the game) and hit tough layup after tough layup, hanging the ball on the edge of the rim with enough back spin to slide back in. It wasn’t Dwyane Wade or LeBron James, but they were monster shots all the same.

The burden of being a young, inconsistent point guard finding your way on a team of superstars is you’re constantly being considered in the context of another level. Chalmers is notoriously confident to the point of absurdity. He honestly believes he’s as good as those players, he honestly believes he can change a game, a series, a season. In Game 4, he backed it up. He made smart decisions, and when he didn’t, he made up for it with hustle plays. Twice, Chalmers responded to turnovers with defensive pressure to force the ball back to Miami’s way.

Chalmers has constantly faced being screamed at by James and Wade for any mistake. Overthrow a full-court outlet pass? Criticism. Miss a defensive rotation? Criticism. Turn the ball over? Fail to get the ball to a star in a key spot? Take a bad shot? Constant and consistent verbal abuse. You have to live with the standards. In Game 4, there were none of those words, just glowing support post-game from the superstar big brothers. The kid had done it, he’d pulled his weight, he’d made the shots, he’d won the game.

Little brother has arrived, when Miami needed him most.

  1. canehouse - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    First of all… Chalmers was one of the only players that showed up with passion in game 6 of the finals last season… even in defeat it spoke volumes to keeping him here… secondly it’s well documented that he has more confidence than anyone on the team… he is cold blooded! Just ask Derek Rose from the NCAA CG. He is exactly what every team needs. He drives us crazy… but we love him!!! LET’S GO HEAT!!!!!

  2. addictedzone - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Great line from Wade on Chalmers tonight – “Mario actually thinks he’s the best player on this team. That’s a blessing… and a curse. But tonight, it was a gift.”

  3. jh4prez - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    Super Mario has two championship rings allready if im not mistaken.

    • soflasfinest - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      One at kansas when they beat d rose and Memphis but that’s it….so far. Thursday could change that!

      • addictedzone - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:09 PM

        Technically I guess you could say Chalmers has won three now. He won two State Titles in High School in 2002 & 2003, and the NCAA Title with Kansas in 2008.

        No idea what he did in middle school, elementary or kindergarten.

  4. dirtybird2020 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    Refs showed up too!

    • edweird0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:53 AM

      not as much as your ignorance!

    • lucky5934 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:24 AM

      Thunder 15-16 from free throw line. Heat 18-25 from free throw line. One could argue that the refs once again assisted the Heat with 9 more free throws than the Thunder. But what’s the point? Heat fans will agree and everyone else will disagree. We have had this discussion too many times before and unfortunately, it seems to be the Heat’s year. It seems they have finally bought their championship.

  5. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    ………………………

    • edweird0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:52 AM

      I think that has to be the best thing you ever posted on this site.

  6. emaimo80 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Shut the effff up already about the refs. Just cause your team couldn’t make it to this point doesn’t mean the nba is rigged. Bunch of le-haters! Whah Whah Whah…..go heat!

  7. jtchernak - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    Refs played a major role so far in this series and if you disagree you didn’t watch the game or your a heat fan

    • gmsingh - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:57 AM

      All you have to do is look at the box score: the Heat had 25 FTA to 16 for the Thunder. How stupid would you have to be to believe there is any reason for the Heat to have 60% more free throw attempts? The Heat play dirty–that number should be in Thunder’s favor every time. However, we can probably assume the NBA will make at least 100 million dollars more–probably much more than that–in merchandising profits when the Heat so I believe the Thunder’s chance of winning this series has be zero from the get-go.

    • reesesteel23 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      Refs play a major role in every game ever played.

    • 20dollardinners - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      I watched all of the games a DISAGREE. I think the officiating has been consistently and equally bad. Too many flop calls, too many ticky-tack calls, not enough non-calls.

  8. truthhurtstoo - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Great job Rio. Shall we clear a spot in front for you losers for our VICTORY parade? You do realize that everyone is laughing at the excuses you’re dishing up right?

    ROFLMAO!

  9. truthhurtstoo - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    westbrook…. how can a player be so great and dumb during the same game? Geez… don’t hear that for the reason the thunder got rolled last night.

  10. finsfan71 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    I would say those crying about the refs have the intellect of a child, but then that would be an insult to children all over the planet.

    If the Heat win you can cry about the refs, it would only cheapen the accomplishment in your own limited mind.

  11. Sanderson Wrestling - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    The Heat are playing like the best team in the NBA right now and it is easy to see why. Lebron James is playing at a high level as well as Bosh and Wade. The defense is suffocating and uncomfortable and the aggressiveness to the hoop is terrifying to Thunder hopefuls. The referees’ calls aren’t the greatest for the Thunder but the team could shoot better from the three point arc to make up for that or guard Miami on that same arc. The Thunder look young but will be desperate so game 5 will either be a blowout for the heat or a close win for the Thunder. follow @marcusfelton, blog:basketballdialogue.wordpress.com

  12. mforman2 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    The refs always play a pivotal role because in this league almost every play is a foul or a walk and they can’t call them all without distorting the game.

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