For the last eight seasons, the Miami Heat have enjoyed the slow steady drip of Udonis Haslem's IV of productivity while others garner the spotlight or put up gaudier numbers. Of course, that's easy to do when playing alongside talent like Dwyane Wade, Eddie Jones, Lamar Odom or LeBron James. Yet when the greater spotlight of the deeper levels of the NBA Playoffs are on, it's difficult to hide any longer.
That's why Haslem's strong performance off the bench is receiving such notice. In a fierce performance off the Miami bench, Haslem scored 13 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. But it was also about the energy and toughness displayed on the court that kept the Heat towering over the Bulls long enough to even the series at 1-1 apiece before coming back to Miami. It was a performance that made head coach Erik Spoelstra comment, "What he did is remarkable. Now I question myself for not using him earlier. He's smart. He's tough. The image of a Miami Heat player is Udonis Haslem."
Of course, Haslem was not alone after two fine performances were also turned in by the predictable LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. James had 29 points and 10 rebounds to go with 3 steals and played nearly the entire game. Wade scored 24 and added 9 rebounds. Chris Bosh was largely silent with only 10 points in 42 minutes played.
Whether or not Haslem deserves to come in off of the bench is a debatable point, but what is not questionable is Haslem's value and toughness for this franchise. The Heat will need maximum efforts from guys like Mike Miller and Haslem over the next few games, but it's possible that those contributions are what edge the Bulls out of the conference finals.