MIAMI — Udonis Haslem heads into the new season healthy following offseason knee surgery and better prepared thanks to a new appreciation for viewing video.
“I’ve been watching a lot of film, trying to figure out how to be more effective and how to stay in the game offensively and defensively,” Haslem said. “This is the first time I’ve watched this much film.”
Haslem hit 8 of 9 from the field for a team-high 16 points in the Heat’s 108-87 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
Neither LeBron James nor Chris Bosh played in the preseason finale, as the two starters rested in preparation for Tuesday night’s regular-season opener against the Chicago Bulls.
Haslem, beginning his 11th NBA season (all with Miami), likely will start at power forward against the Bulls. He’s Miami’s all-time leader in games played and rebounds.
“We got through the preseason healthy, which is the most important thing — we didn’t lose anybody to injuries,” Haslem said. “Secondly, we embark on another journey and I’m excited about it.”
Haslem, 33, underwent offseason right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He sat for Miami’s preseason opener, then played in five of the final six exhibition games.
“I feel good, I feel good,” Haslem said before Friday’s game as he reached back and knocked on a wooden panel. “You never know how bad you’re hurt until you have the surgery and you get rehabbing and you actually feel yourself being 100 percent.”
Haslem averaged 4.0 points and 6.8 rebounds through his first four preseason performances before breaking out offensively against Brooklyn.
“Tonight’s game has been the best he has been moving around this month,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He is finding open gaps and applying a lot of things we have been working on with our spacing offensively.”
Something apparently the result of Haslem’s film study with Spoelstra and assistant coach David Fizdale.
“Usually, I just rely on instinct, and now I really had to get back into the classroom to figure it out,” Haslem said. “The last couple of years, I tried to figure it out on my own. This year, I’ve really been into the film with the coaches, just trying to see how I can be more of a threat offensively and find my spots to be available for the guys.”
Before the formation of Miami’s Big Three, Haslem often took his share of short- and mid-range jumpers. He has concentrated on defense and rebounding the past three seasons, contributing some pick-and-rolls on the offensive end.
On Friday night, Haslem’s picks preceded pop outs to spots from where he could release a jumper.
“Coach (Spoelstra) has given me a little more freedom to ‘pick and pop’ as opposed to always rolling to the basket,” Haslem said.
With the preseason finished, the defending NBA champions were turning their attention to Tuesday night’s ring ceremony and game against the Bulls.
“I wish they could give out the rings the day of the parade,” Haslem said. “You got the Bulls coming in focused and ready to get the job done, so we have to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand.”