by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni
Facing a must-win situation in Chicago last night, the Miami Heat needed someone — anyone — to play the role of hero.
With the usual suspects on the floor, it was the unlikeliest member of the team that delivered, and helped send the Eastern Conference Finals back to Florida all knotted up.
The numbers weren’t eye-popping (13 points, 5 boards), but Udonis Haslem’s inspired performance helped the Heat win a tough Game 2, for which his teammates and coaches were extremely thankful:
He didn’t want to be part of the show. He just wanted to set the stage.”I don’t claim to be the savior,” Haslem said hours before a critical Game 2 began. “I just think I can contribute.”
The coach said he spoke to Haslem before practice Monday and had a feeling it was time to get him back into a prominent role. “There was a look in his eye, and I knew it was time,” [Erik] Spoelstra said. “He’s an absolute championship warrior. What he did tonight was absolutely remarkable.”
“He’s the player of this game,” [Dwyane] Wade said of Haslem. “We don’t win this game without him. That’s our warrior, our heartbeat of the team. And he showed it today.”
Though superstars are always going to grab most of the glory and headlines, it’s role players that often make the final difference in these tough Playoff battles.
Chicago will need its own unlikely heros to come through as the series now shifts to Miami.