When a veteran player is actually having success in guarding arguably the greatest player of all-time at their position, you’d think they might be able to offer a little insight. Not Udonis Haslem. Not at all.
“When I looked at the film before the series,” Haslem said at shootaround before Game 3, “stuff to take away before the series, I was like ‘Damn!’ He was scoring left-handed, he was scoring right-handed, he was scoring face-up, jump-hooks, back-down jump-hooks.”
… “Really,” Haslem said, “there was nothing in the film that said ‘OK, let me take away this.’ It’s really just a matter of competing and contesting everything, and then accepting backside help when I need it. ”
… “You really can’t move him,” Haslem said. “Once he settles down on that block, you really can’t get him out of there. You gotta just try and meet him early and compete to keep him out of those sweet spots and contest everything.”
So first of all, props to Haslem for not gloating – I know I would be. Second, extra props to Haslem for realizing he’s not really doing all that much to slow down Duncan in the first place.
Duncan is a lot like Hakeem Olajuwon in the sense that he’s full of counters and he’s going to get wherever he wants to on the low block. Haslem sees this. Hell, we’ve all seen Duncan turn the left block into his own personal torture chamber for the last decade. So, instead of trying to figure out Duncan’s game, Haslam has relied on his blue-collar work ethic and sheer defensive intensity. Smart guy.
That said, with Duncan coming off arguably the worst Finals performance of his career in game three. Don’t be surprised if he turns Haslem into a human pretzel at home Tuesday night.