It isn’t Indiana Pacers fault if they couldn’t see this version of Udonis Haslem coming. In fact there wasn’t any reason for it either.
Haslem has always performed well his role of being a veteran forward for his side. He had scored in single digits in six out of seven playoff games and helped finished for the Miami Heat beat the Pacers 114-96 in Game 3. He scored 17 points on 8-for-9 shooting in helping Miami Heat emerge victorious in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat is running ahead with a 2-1 lead in the series and will also have homecourt advantage to its credit with Game 4 set for Tuesday night in Indianapolis.
Haslem decided to go quietly for a 1-for-7 from the floor in first two games but he only managed to achieve this feat only when he looked for his shot early and often in Game 3. As Haslem’s mid-range jumpers left 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert out of position constantly. It happened as Hibbert was slightly carefree in defense against Haslem and Chris Bosh to protect rim and the same happened with the lane against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Hibbert said that it was Haslem’s effectiveness which prompted him to alter his approach.
“I think he was really the guy that pushed them, the catalyst for them,” he said. “Just him hitting those shots really made us have to think on defense. Who do we guard? Do we guard the paint, or do we have to go out to the shooters out in the corner.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel was profoundly criticized for sending Hibbert out of Game 1 before James’ went on his game-winning streak. Vogel defended his move saying he was worried that Bosh would be exposed to an easy jumper. This time around The Heat spent 48 minutes showing Pacers fans why Vogel’s Game 1 decision wasn’t that bad an idea.