Only in the Miami Heat organization do you see a man go from truly forgotten to deal breaker in the matter of a few games. We’ve seen it with James Jones, Rashard Lewis and most of Dwyane Wade’s stand-ins, but as of late March the spark has come from a local guy from the 305.
“It’s always interesting with [Udonis Haslem] when it gets to this time of year,” coach Erik Spoelstra said via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “He finds a way. And that’s what he’s doing right now.”
It’s the only way the undrafted power forward out of the University of Florida knows. You work hard and you sacrifice. That’s how he worked when he was overweight and overseas and identical to the way he’s use to sacrificing for his team — whether it’s money and a suspension to stand up for a teammate or giving up a starting spot like he did for Michael Beasley, in his first stint, and twice for Shane Battier.
But no matter how long Haslem stays out of the rotation, he always seems mentally ready to be the next man up. And he proved that earlier this month when he began getting crunch time minutes before eventually starting again.
I won’t go as far as calling him the solution, but his defense and rebounding are sure helping to plug a few problems. After all, his scrappy play does tend to scare people out of their games — just ask Roy Hibbert or perhaps LeBron James: “If I got to go into a dark alley, I know he’d be one of them I’d go in with.”
Haslem is even pitching in with well-placed offense — 7-for-8 on one night, 8-for-11 on another.
However, what is really surprising is that Haslem has been hitting his jumper as if he just rediscovered that he was automatic from 15-feet. Which makes things interesting because if he keeps knocking them down like he use to, Greg Oden could find his behind glued to the bench.