Prepare your senses for a roaring vortex of noise Sunday night when Udonis Haslem rips off his warmup pants and checks into his first home game in more than six months. In a playoff series dictated by energy and passion, Haslem's first action at AmericanAirlines Arena since tearing a tendon in his left foot in November will provide an emotional burst for the Heat. The Heat is 6-0 at home through the first two rounds of the postseason, and Haslem's return will highlight the team's first Eastern Conference finals game at the Biscayne Bay arena since 2006. "I always envisioned [Haslem] coming home and the crowd going crazy," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "Just his performance he had in the last game and the fact that he's decent enough to play in basketball games and play at home, I think it will give us a little bit of an emotional edge." Haslem was more than decent Wednesday in Game?2 of the Eastern Conference finals at Chicago's United Center. Desperately searching for some stability from his reserves, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called on Haslem in the first quarter, and he delivered with an inspiring effort that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade called the difference in the game. Haslem's 13 points and five rebounds helped the Heat even the conference finals at one game apiece and shifted home-court advantage in Miami's favor. "I was driving in listening to the radio and it was U.D. day after the game in Chicago," Wade said Saturday. "So the city of Miami loves that he's the son of the city, and it's going to be big for him when he checks into the game to hear the ovation from the crowd, and obviously that's going to give everyone a mental and physical push at that moment, but we have to sustain that." The Heat hasn't lost at home this postseason. The Bulls haven't lost two games in a row, and are 3-2 on the road during the playoffs. "Something has to give," James said. How important is home-court advantage in the playoffs? It's debatable. On Saturday, Spoelstra downplayed the effect of playing at home, and James Jones called it "energizing" and "electrifying." "This is the one place that we call our safe haven — the one place in America where we aren't booed when we step on the floor," Jones said.
Heat, Udonis Haslem ready for hero's welcome
Miami Herald | May 22