Storyline: Whiteside-Spoelstra Dynamic

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Spoelstra recently has shown an inclination to playing Whiteside and Adebayo together more, with both players embracing that lineup. Does that pairing need to work long term in order for there to be enough minutes for both talents? “It would definitely be helpful, because I would definitely play more minutes,” Whiteside said. “We’ve just got to decide. I think it could definitely work.”

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Asked if he could have played more in his return from illness, Whiteside said: “Uh, I can always play that many minutes. But coach went with the team that he wanted to get the win with and it’s coach’s decision. I can’t do nothing about that.” Asked if he thought he would have played more with Olynyk out, Whiteside said: “Maybe. Maybe. I mean, how long I know Spo? About four years. So I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know. It’s hard to predict. It’s hard to predict. It’s hard to gauge now a days.”

Hassan Whiteside’s nifty numbers were splendid, of course – the season highs in points (27) and blocks (six) to go with 13 rebounds. But you know what was more satisfying for Whiteside? The fact Erik Spoelstra allowed him to play late with the game on the line, and that Whiteside delivered. “I’m just glad coach allowed me to play [32] minutes,” Whiteside said. “He left me out there, he really trusted me tonight. I’m just really happy about that.”

“I definitely feel comfortable (guarding players on the perimeter),” Whiteside said. “I didn’t have to guard any shooting bigs. They put Robin Lopez in every time I came in, I guess for boxing out. So I don’t have no problem with it, but it’s up to Coach Spo.” Spoelstra was asked about his approach with Whiteside in the fourth quarter “It goes however it goes,” he said. “We didn’t get the job done. That’s the bottom line. We were in a hole. At that point, you got to make whatever decisions you can make to try to get back into the game. It looked like we were getting it back. We got it to six and then they made bigger plays down the stretch.”

Whiteside has averaged only 22.1 minutes per contest – and played no more than 29 in a game – since his return the day after Christmas. His diminished role, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime (where he’s played only 15 of a possible 72 minutes), has bothered him. But he’s swallowed his frustrations in part because the Heat has gone 5-1 since he’s been back. “As along as we’re winning,” the 7-footer responded Tuesday at shootaround when asked what his approach will be moving forward if he continues to sit on the bench in crunch time. “You know, we won. So as a player, of course you want to be out there. But we won the game, so I can’t really be mad at that. That’s what you’re out there to do anyway. You’re out there getting all them rebounds and blocks to win a game. So every point counts. We won by one point. Everybody’s points count.”
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