Udonis Haslem Is Key to a Miami Heat Victory in the Eastern Conference Finals

Amit BatraCorrespondent IIIMay 28, 2012

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 12:  Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat poses during media day at American Airlines Arena on December 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Heat captain Udonis Haslem is one of two players from the 2006 championship team.  He has been the heart and soul of this team, and that was evident after he was suspended for Game 6 of Miami's series with the Indiana Pacers.

Haslem was a very big part of the success in the Pacers series.  He carried the load in Game 4 alongside Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.  He put up 14 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.  He is the one guy who's not part of the Big Three that can constantly step up for the Heat.

What Haslem does well is contribute on all sides of the floor.  He is a solid defensive player and can be a very clutch jump shooter.  Haslem takes some of the pressure off Wade and James.  In the series against the Boston Celtics, Haslem will need to use his leadership role to get his team back to the NBA finals.

Haslem is as tough as they come.  He sticks up for his team, as seen in Game 5 of the Heat-Pacers series when he delivered a flagrant foul to Tyler Hansbrough.  If the stitches that are still above his right eye don't say toughness, I don't know what does. 

Haslem recently said that he can't imagine anything he wouldn't do for Wade.  After all, they are the only members on this team who have won a championship together.  Haslem's toughness really does energize the Heat.  Perhaps the moment Haslem struck Hansbrough was the moment the Heat came alive and took complete control of the series. 

Not only does Haslem provide toughness and scoring ability, he provides solid defense and rebounding as well.  Without Bosh, Haslem could be the one to attack the glass and guard Kevin Garnett

Haslem can be considered more of a leader for this team than James or Wade.  Sure, he may not put up the numbers that those two do every night, but he sticks up for his team and provides the physical toughness that it takes to win a championship.

Against Boston, Haslem will need to make his mark.  James and Wade will have their usual performances, but Haslem will be a key player that can solidify another Eastern Conference Championship.  After all, he's been there before.