It has been nearly 6 months since the Miami Heat’s captain has played basketball, nonetheless Udonis Haslem is determined to make a comeback. Haslem injured his left foot in Miami’s 97-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies back in November.
A tireless worker, Haslem is the clichéd “rock” of the Miami Heat. He does the “little things” by rebounding, setting screens and playing solid defense. He also adds the always coveted “playoff experience”, and did a commendable job defending Dirk Nowitzki in the 2006 finals, on his way to Miami’s first championship.
As the Heat advance to the second round against Boston, Haslem is working hard to make a return to the roster, even though the noise surrounding him indicates he probably will not be active for game 1. He is practicing with the team, but still is experiencing soreness in his foot.
In a November 11, 2010 loss to the Boston Celtics, Haslem provided Miami with 21 points and 10 rebounds from the bench. Production that has clearly been lacking throughout the season and into the playoffs.
While it would obviously be a great addition, most players who suffer the same injury do not return in the same season. Even if Haslem can provide 10-15 minutes for the Heat, it would be a huge boost to a bench that has been less than stellar thus far in the playoffs. The Boston Celtics are dealing with their own injury problems, as Shaquille O’Neal’s status is still unknown for this series.
Haslem can rebound and knock down the mid-range jump shot. The Celtics are going to focus most of their defensive energy on stopping Miami’s “Big 3″ which means crowding the painted area. As a result Haslem will have plenty of open looks from the baseline and elbow.
While I do not believe it absolutely necessary for the Heat to have Udonis Haslem healthy, it obviously helps. It adds depth to a thin Miami Heat bench that has struggled to make shots. Hopefully we will see the pride of Miami get out on the floor. It certainly would be an ovation rivaling Alonzo Mourning’s illustrious reutrn in 2006.
Do you think the Heat need Haslem to win this year? Answer for yourself in the poll.