Whiteside Gets His Shot, But Heat Fall To Warriors


The Hassan Whiteside Era is upon us!

Unfortunately, the Miami Heat fell to the Golden State Warriors 104-89, as the shorthanded Heat played their 15th different starting lineup on the season. The loss drops Miami 17-22, while Golden State improved to a league best 31-5.

After sweeping the Clippers/Lakers Staples Center trip, the Heat gave a valiant effort against the best team in the NBA. And while a loss can be dejecting, the silver lining for the Heat is that the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets also lost, so Miami still holds their footing in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. Yes, this is the solace Heat fans have to take now. Life comes at you fast.

Dwyane Wade sat out Wednesday’s game with a hamstring injury he suffered Tuesday against the Lakers, but it seems more of a precaution. He’ll be re-evaluated Thursday and is questionable for Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

Steph Curry led all players with 32 points on 11 of 19 shooting, and 7 of 10 from three. He’s taken a quantum leap this season, leading a much improved Warriors team to the best record in the NBA. There really doesn’t seem to be a shot he doesn’t like taking, as he’s almost money whenever he fires away. His running buddy Klay Thompson chipped in 19 points, as the Splash Brothers helped lead the Warriors to their 15th straight win at home.

Things that pleased me: Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra finally took a ride on the Whiteside, as the center got his first career start and didn’t disappoint. Whiteside recorded his third double-double of the year, going for 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks against the Warriors. Golden State made a concentrated effort to limit Whiteside’s activity close to the basket, as Wade’s absence, combined with the Heat’s inability to do damage shooting from distance, allowed the Warriors to throw multiple defenders at him. Teams are game-planning for Hassan Whiteside! He’s averaging 14.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 3.5 block so far on this road trip, and will probably earn another start vs. DeMarcus Cousins on Friday.

After a rough outing against the Lakers, Chris Bosh bounced back with 26 points (8 for 18 shooting) and 7 rebounds. Bosh has shown that he has a short memory and can move past a bad night. He hit 2 of his 4 shots from downtown. Luol Deng also improved upon his game in Los Angeles, scoring 19 points (6 of 11 shooting), while grabbing 7 rebounds.

Shabazz Napier was also the recipient of his first career start, scoring 10 points and dishing out 6 assists. Going up against Curry wasn’t exactly a dream matchup on defense for Napier, but he still showed flashes of his ability to handle the point. Baby steps.

Things that annoyed awed me:  The Warriors shot 46.9% from the field, and 44.8% from downtown, as Heat fans had to gasp every time Curry and Thompson were primed to shoot. But they’re not just a three-point shooting team. They play tremendous defense (first in the league in defensive FG%), and are unselfish with the basketball (first in assists). They’re like a suped-up version of the Spurs.  And although Golden State got 12 points from their other three starters, they more than made up for it by getting 41 points off the bench.

Things that perplexed me: The Warriors play in Oakland, yet television broadcasts of sporting events there always show scenic shots of nearby San Francisco. But it’s not just aerial shots or panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, as Sun Sports (the Heat’s network) showed shots of Union Square and the trolleys in the city itself. It’s almost like “Isn’t this beautiful? Well, sadly we’re in Oakland.”

What does this have to do with the game? Nothing at all. It just grinds my gears.

Scale of 1 to 10, how bad did I want to throw a lamp because of Norrio Colmers? 3. The Crash Brothers felt a shakeup in the lineup, with Chalmers starting for Wade, and Napier taking the starting spot from Cole. They combined for 11 points (4 of 14 shooting) and 9 assists, while also trying their hands at dealing with Curry and Thompson. Napier played well enough to get another start on Friday, as Cole is probably more comfortable coming off the bench. Assuming Wade plays, Chalmers can continue as the backup shooting guard.

What we’ve learned: Facing one of the best teams in the NBA on the second night of a back-to-back, without Wade in the lineup, and starting Napier and Whiteside for the first time was as daunting a task the Heat could have had. But they showed enough grit to make this game interesting for stretches of the game, even getting the deficit down to 9 points on a few occasions. I wouldn’t call it a moral victory, but Coach Spoelstra has to be encouraged by the effort.

The Heat finish their five game West Coast trip on Friday night in Sacramento, as a win over the Kings helps the Heat go 3-2 on the trip, which before its start, any Heat fan would have been pleased with that outcome.

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