Miami’s Udonis Haslem: “I Have To Get Minutes”

Imagine if you were on a team, lobbying for more playing time, and were asked, “Well, what have you done to earn it?” Right now, Miami’s Udonis Haslem would have to say “Um, in seven playoff minutes so far, I haven’t scored a point, and haven’t grabbed a rebound.”

But with Miami trailing Chicago 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, and their situation becoming increasingly dire (no one has a clue what they’ll do about the rebounding problems), Haslem says he’s ready and hoping for more time.

The Miami Herald writes:

Haslem doesn’t have a rebound in seven playoff minutes. But “my timing is good,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready. My teammates feel like I’m ready. I can do everything I need to do.”

He said not playing much “is not easy. Game 5 against Boston was the first time I’ve ever been in uniform and didn’t get in. … As a competitor, I’m not going to say I was cool with sitting on the bench. But the ultimate goal is to win, and I understand we have a rotation that’s been working.”

TNT’s Reggie Miller said off air that Haslem “is going to have to play more minutes. He brings energy and toughness and that’s what you need against Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.”

In a 45-minute conference call, I had some time with TNT’s Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr and Marv Albert earlier this week, and the biggest concern they had for the Heat was rebounding. Kerr, in particular, said they’re stuck. If they play Zydrunas Ilgauskas, he’ll help offensively but will get drilled on the pick-n-roll by Derrick Rose. If they go with Joel Anthony, he’s not used to playing 35 or more minutes. The rest of the guys are too old. Miami almost has to play Haslem, even though he’s coming off a major foot injury, and hasn’t been a factor since November.

“He’s the one guy on that roster who’s kinda an energy, rebounder, tough guy,” says Kerr, “who can maybe combat this stuff.”

They have no other choice. He’s their most physical interior player. They have no one else to turn to.

“You can only do so much in practice,” said Haslem to the Miami Herald. “For me to take that next step, I have to get minutes.”

Miller felt Haslem could help, but thinks Miami just needs to play harder, and play as hard as they did against Boston.

“It was interesting,” Miller says. “During our game, we had a little bit of soundbite from Erik Spoelstra and it was almost like he was challenging his team a little bit by saying ‘if you really want to win this game and this series, it’s all going to come down to the little things.’ To me, the 50-50 balls, obviously it was well-documented. We talked about the 19 offensive rebounds for the Chicago Bulls. To me, that just comes down to effort.

“And we didn’t see that in Game 1.”

In that first game, Chicago had 31 second-chance points, and were plus-12 on the glass against the Heat.

What should Miami do?

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