Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside sidelined again, team to step up

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Hassan Whiteside
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Hassan Whiteside /

With Hassan Whiteside once again sidelined, the Miami Heat are going to have to step their game up.

Remember last year, when the Miami Heat were so banged up that at one point there were only three guys, Udonis Haslem included, available to come off the bench?

Well, things may not be that bad currently, but Hassan Whiteside being sidelined again could still very well cause the team major problems.

After sitting out five games due to sustaining a knee bone bruise in the first game of the season (October 18), the big man looks to be out once more for the same reason. But this time, it’s for one to two weeks.

"“It has really been bothering me throughout the season,” Whiteside said. “You know, I sat out, I missed them games, I came back, and it’s still bothering me.”"

So now, the staff is insisting their center undergo a strength and conditioning program, to fix the problem once and for all.

"“…this is just part of the process. We anticipated this,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Hasn’t gotten any worse necessarily, just the schedule hasn’t let up, and he really hasn’t been able to do two days of work in a row for a while.”"

While Spoelstra may seem cool, calm and collected over the matter, there is definite reason to worry. Although Whiteside hasn’t been playing his best basketball anyways lately, losing the 7-footer is going to hurt the team on both ends of the floor.

In fact, it already has.

In a horrendous loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, it became obvious just how important Whiteside is to this team. Fully engaged, absolutely, but also even when he does the bare minimum. Currently, he’s averaging 14.9 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game.

At his worst this season, the 28-year-old still grabbed six rebounds and swatted one block in 16 minutes of play against the Golden State Warriors, despite only scoring three points. On the other hand, he also totaled 26 points and 22 rebounds in that October 18 matchup with the Orlando Magic.

So clearly, the big guy is going to be missed.

In the meantime, co-headliner Goran Dragic will have to continue to hold things down. Or rather, starting doing so again. After being named the league’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week last week, the point guard had unusually quiet back-to-back games. While he scored just seven points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he only managed to total six versus the Knicks.

"“We just look like some games we have a lot of energy and come out battling,” Dragic said of the two recent losses. “But some games I don’t know how to describe it but it’s like we didn’t eat all day. It’s disturbing because this is our job and you want to be hungry.”"

One guy who is visibly hungry though is rookie Bam Adebayo, who filled in for Whiteside on Wednesday. While he finished with just nine points, five rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes, the effort was certainly there. Even after having played the night before in Cleveland, where he totaled 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and one block in just 19 minutes.

"“He’s been putting in a lot of work to prepare himself,” Spoelstra said. “He never knows exactly when he’s going to play. It’s not easy to come into a game like this.”"

Dragic and Adebayo will both certainly have to contribute in major ways to make up for Whiteside’s absence, but it’s going to take a full team effort in order to get the Heat back on track.

Next: Miami Heat get embarrassed in The Garden by the New York Knicks

Hassan Whiteside being sidelined leaves a huge gap in the Miami Heat’s offense and defense, calling for the team to really step things up.