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.”
The performance after what Whiteside said was an hour-long meeting Sunday with Spoelstra. “It was good, man,” Whiteside said. “You know me and Coach Spo talked. We talked for a really long time. It was like an hour talk. I think it was great, man. It was a really good talk between us and we both came better out of it.”
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  minutes,” Whiteside said. “He left me out there, he really trusted me tonight. I’m just really happy about that.”
Erik Spoelstra was effusive afterward, saying “Hassan Whiteside was the player of the game for us obviously…. He was a monster tonight and you could see it from his very first block. You could see it from his very first over the top rebound, you could see it from his very first drive that he was playing with a different aggressiveness. He knows what I’m going to say. I’m going to say, ‘Hey, great job Big Fella. Do it againon Friday.’”
Otherwise, he played 2:44 of the final quarter in one game and between five and six minutes in three others. “It’s whatever Coach Spo wants,” Whiteside said about coach Erik Spoelstra. “That’s what Coach Spo wants to do, that’s the lineup he wants to go with. … he thinks is going to get us the win. I can’t do nothing about it.”
“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.”
“You always want to play,” he said. “As a player, I don’t want to come out. If you ask me, I want to play 48 minutes. So that’s a tough question. But coach sees different things. Maybe he sees different things on the court. Sometimes it’s tough to take those guys out, too, because you got to take somebody off the court. And them guys were playing well.”
Spoelstra said he’s made it very clear to Whiteside what he has to do if he wants more minutes. He has to reach Spoelstra’s level of expectations.
Spoelstra then brought up LeBron James as an example of a player who has flourished while carrying that burden. “Yes, he can put up 20 and 15 like few I’ve ever seen,” Spoelstra said of Whiteside. “And if that’s not enough to get a win then there has to be more. There has to be more. That’s the responsibility all the great players in the history of this game have shouldered.”
Erik Spoelstra made it unmistakably clear he was furious with Whiteside, and his post-game comments suggested the Heat will not protest his Flagrant 2 (and automatic one-game suspension) with the NBA. “That’s something we’ll deal with with Hassan,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t condone that kind of play. We’ve been through this with him before. It’s a disappointing play. That’s not a basketball play.”
He added that they had minimal conversation about the play afterward. Spoelstra double checked at the scorer’s table that it was a Flagrant 2 and ordered Whiteside to the locker room. The Heat sent him home before post-game media access, so he did not answer questions about the altercation.
Ira Winderman: And from Hassan Whiteside on Erik Spoelstra, “I don’t know what our relationship is. Oh, we’re fine.”
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February 17, 2018 | 4:35 pm EST Update
Ramona Shelburne: This past summer, when Cleveland was trying to trade for him, Paul George said he and LeBron had lunch because they were in the same place on the same day, but “it wasn’t about teaming up.” Just strengthening their bond. 😎
Connor Letourneau: Durant said he f—— up his dynamic with Westbrook at All-Star last year. Said he let it be a thing when he should’ve just gotten out of his own head.
Antonio Martin Guirado: Goran Dragic thinks his national teammate Luka Doncic will jump to the MVP next season
February 17, 2018 | 4:17 pm EST Update
Drew Shiller: Klay made it clear he wants to stay with Warriors his whole career. When asked by Woj about playing the “free-agent game,” Klay said: “I’m gonna get a lot of questions about it. It’s become pretty robotic with what I say. So I’m sorry. But it’s just the nature of the beast.”