Udonis Haslem rips narrative of talent gap in 2023 NBA Finals: ‘I don’t know what the f—k they’re talking about with that s–t’

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The Miami Heat locker room was an expectedly salty place after the team’s latest loss to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals, and veteran Udonis Haslem was in no mood to hear about the perceived talent gap between the two sides.

“It’s disrespectful for people to say that because you can’t just trick your way into the Finals. It takes talent,” Haslem told Bleacher Report after the game.

“I don’t know what the f— they’re talking about with that s—. Yes, we have some undrafted players, but they’re also talented players and we’ve made it this far. We just have to limit our mistakes.

“They got 20 points off our f—— [14] turnovers. That s— can’t happen. But I believe in this team just like I did on those teams when we had D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and LeBron [James]. I have no doubt we’ll respond accordingly.”

The Heat did not respond in Game 4 the way they would have liked, and the 108-95 loss on Friday put them down 3-1 in the series. Only one team out of 36 has ever rallied from that deficit to win the NBA Finals.

The Nuggets got the job done in Game 4 without the usual statistical dominance of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Instead, role players like Aaron Gordon, Bruce Brown and Michael Porter Jr. made major contributions.

Miami relied heavily on its secondary players to fuel its surprising run to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, some of those players are falling short now.

With Jimmy Butler struggling a bit at the start of the series, undrafted players like Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson did help the Heat win Game 2. But that’s their only victory of the series so far, and they just dropped two games on their home court.

As one example, Strus just had his second scoreless game of the Finals, going 0-for-4 in Game 4 after he was 0-for-10 in Game 1. Another undrafted player, Caleb Martin, is averaging just 6.8 points per game in the series after averaging 19.3 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Miami certainly can’t afford performances like that in Game 5 at Denver on Monday, when the Nuggets will look to wrap up their first NBA title in franchise history.

The Heat have shown an ability to rally throughout the playoffs and won a gutsy Game 7 against the Boston Celtics on the road when facing elimination last round. But the Nuggets, who have won nine of their past 10 games, may just have too much for Miami to handle, especially if Jokic and Murray play well in Game 5.

Jokic, of course, is a two-time NBA MVP who seemingly makes history at will with his consistent triple-doubles, and Murray has had explosive games to complement him.

The duo has outperformed Butler and Bam Adebayo in this series, and when the Heat supporting cast falls short, the Nuggets often seem to take advantage. Miami must now keep Denver from doing so again in Game 5.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.