The loss of Miami Heat‘s Udonis Haslem is a big blow.
The Heat will need players to step up in game 6 to be able to close out the series. Since game 4, only Haslem has been able to contribute other than Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. He was able to get a crucial 14 points in game 4, eight in the fourth, in what looked like the end of Miami’s season.
In game 3, the Heat’s Mario Chalmers was able to step up when Wade was in his slump. LeBron James has been mainly consistent in the series, but has seen his struggles. Those two will get their numbers, as they seem to have woken up from their shooting woes earlier this series. Shane Battier was able to provide good numbers offensively in game 5, as did Haslem.
The series has been physical to say the least. Game 5 saw three flagrant fouls, the result seeing Haslem and Dexter Pittman suspended. As a captain, Haslem has won a ring and is only one of two players from that 2006 championship team.
While role players need to make their open shots and provide rebounding, defense and physicality, James and Wade must continue to be as aggressive as they have been recently. When the Heat are at their best, they are usually pushing the ball and getting baskets in transition. Whether it’s Chalmers, Battier, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, James Jones or someone else, the Heat will need extra help for Wade and James without Haslem.
With the loss of Haslem, the Heat get even thinner. The loss of Chris Bosh has obviously been significant and easily seen, but the loss of Haslem could be just as severe. Guys like Juwan Howard or Eddy Curry could see some playing time behind Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf.
Wade and James will obviously carry the majority of the possessions and load offensively. However, winning starts with the defense.
Miami is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Limiting Indiana’s open looks could be the win or loss in this game. Wade and James will have to find the other guys to help out, and those players will have to do their respective jobs.
Game 5 was probably the closest to a complete game for the Miami Heat in this series. The loss of Bosh not only hurt in the offensive schemes, but defensively as well. With the recent “soft” comments by Larry Bird on the Pacers Game 5 flop, the Pacers could very well feed the ball in the post to David West and Roy Hibbert more than the last game.
The guys who aren’t named Wade and James will need to make some contribution offensively in order for Miami to reach the Eastern Conference Finals once again.
The duo have been something special recently, but the loss of Haslem can very well be felt if the role players do not contribute.
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