Starting guards Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters spent the two days leading up to Wednesday’s game asking for better screens. Hassan Whiteside responded to their request by pointing the finger back at them after Tuesday’s practice, urging them to be patient when using his screens. “Me and Dion were in the paint all night. I felt like Hassan was great,” Dragic said after the victory. “I even told him after the game. When he’s setting these kind of screens, it makes my job and Dion’s job so much easier because we have more time to create, to read the defense.”
“I would argue that this might have been Hassan’s best screening game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Wednesday’s win over Boston. “So you look at so many things that are deceptive about a box score. He has eight points and 10 rebounds, which is pretty pedestrian for him, and a minus-11 in a plus-minus and it doesn’t, at all, display the type of winning plays that he was making tonight. This is what we’re trying to help him with, to understand how to really impact winning in all facets, and that’s in practice, yesterday he had a very good practice, in shootaround, followed it up with a focused pregame. It’s not about the results. But I don’t see it as an accident. Those guys were able to get in the paint. They had some great screens from our bigs. Kelly Olynyk, he is one of the better screeners, anyway, in this league. That’s why it’s a symbiotic relationship. Guys can’t do it on their own.”
“First and foremost, big shout to Hassan Whiteside,” Waiters said. “Those screens, that’s how we preach to him all of the time. Whitey sometimes tries to come up there and get the roll. But most of the time if you’re not hitting the guys, it’s hard for us to really get into the paint because of how they’re playing us. Because they don’t want us to get the lob. He was coming up big. Then he was holding the screens, that allowed us to turn the corner, get downhill between us and the big.”
It extended Miami’s lead to four and stalled the Celtics’ run for good, and the Heat eventually handed Boston its first loss in 35 days, 104-98. “It’s tough, but I’m proud of this group,” Celtics forward Al Horford said. “We put ourselves in position to win a game there, and we didn’t make the plays down the stretch. We have to learn from that. “It wasn’t like we were necessarily dominating during the streak. But the will of this team is something that needs to be accounted for.”