Posted by Royce Young
All season long, there has been talk about the Heat's role players, or lack thereof. Bench production has been an issue for a while. Outside of the so-called Big Three (or Big Two and Chris) the Heat struggle with answers.
A reason for that? Probably their best role player has been hurt most of the season.
But he's finally back tonight in uniform as Udonis Haslem is active for Game 4 against the Celtics.
Haslem has been out since November because of foot surgery and has flirted numerous times with coming back. He targeted a return to begin the playoffs, but wasn't ready. Then he wanted to make his first appearance in the second round. Not ready.
Now, evidently he is. And it'll be very interesting to see what he adds. His health and effectiveness as a result of that is the first question but let's not forget that Haslem is a pretty darn good big man. He gives the Heat a much better bench immediately and a lot more depth up front. No more will it be Juawn Howard logging big minutes behind Chris Bosh. Those will go to Haslem -- depending on health of course.
How many minutes he gets is another question, but even if it's just five, that's better than five more to Howard or overplaying Bosh.
Haslem's a tough, rugged power forward that is tough on the glass and has a nifty little 15-20 foot jumper. He's good as a bailout option late in the clock and can buy extra possessions hitting the offensive boards. Is he a major, series-swinging difference? Most likely not. But with Haslem, the Heat are better than without him. They're deeper, tougher and have a much improved front line to trot out.