If you saw last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, you know that the Miami Heat were killed on the offensive glass. This was particularly the case whenever Chris Kaman or LaMarcus Aldridge were in the game. It seemed as though every single offensive board translated into scoring opportunities for the Trail Blazers.
Yet, what was on everyone’s mind, including the announcers of the game, was whether Coach Erik Spoelstra would be inserting Hassan Whiteside into the game.
The first half went Miami’s way in nearly every facet. They looked spry, Dwyane Wade had 15 points in the first half and were playing great defensively. The Trail Blazers only scored 43 points in the first half right before Wade and guard Damian Lillard collided near the Trail Blazer three-point line.
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The biggest pluses of the first half was the pace on offense which looked quick, and Hassan Whiteside, who had six points and four rebounds. He didn’t come back in the game until the fourth quarter when the game had already spiraled out of control.
Spoelstra should do a better job at rotating Whiteside into the lineup more. He is a player that has certainly earned his fair share of minutes. He has shown that he can be a capable defender, evidenced by his four blocked shots in the game. As a matter of fact, he is averaging 3.2 blocks per game in the last five game.
He is a huge body, standing 7 feet tall. Whiteside has more than held his own on offense, averaging 9.8 points while collecting 7.6 rebounds. He is also shooting 66 percent from the field. Of his 39 shots from the field, 29 have come from within five feet from the basket. And on those shots he has shot 75 percent.
To put that into perspective, 206 of Dwight Howard‘s 276 shots come from five feet out, and he has hit 66 percent of his shots. That is not to put Hassan Whiteside in the same category as Howard, but it is also to put some things into perspective. Howard shoots very close to the basket on a lot of his shots, getting layups and dunks.
Whiteside does the same exact thing and shoots a very good percentage doing it. That being said, one can understand that he is a raw player. He is unproven, and he lacks a certain grace about him.
But at this point in the season Miami cannot worry about grace or style, what they must worry about is substance. As I wrote Friday, this is not a season that is over and done with. Miami lost to a very good Trail Blazers team. But what makes the loss frustrating for the Heat fan is that the game was winnable.
The Trail Blazers were on their heels the entire first half, and part of that was the incredible play of Hassan Whiteside.
Against the Brooklyn Nets, a game that Miami won, Whiteside was the third leading scorer with 11 points. He is becoming one of Miami’s more consistent players. Those are hard to come by in this league, let alone for Miami. Recently, Miami’s point guard play has struggled mightily, and players like Danny Granger and James Ennis have proved inconsistent.
If he is deployed more often into the lineup, game time might help him develop more. Let Alonzo Mourning, a former player who works as a sort of consultant for the Heat, work with Whiteside.
And who knows, Miami might have an Andre Drummond on their hands.