If you’re a 10-time All-Star like how Chris Bosh is then only scoring six points in a game is a bad night at the office. If you’re Hassan Whiteside, who’s on the even of making his first All-Star game appearance, then scoring six points isn’t necessarily bad.
“He can dominate a game without scoring,” said Chris Bosh.
Bosh wasn’t lying because he himself had a wonderful game finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 28 minutes but it was the defense that got Miami the easy blowout road win. When you speak about Heat defense, there’s only one name you need to mention, the Defensive player of the Year candidate, Whiteside. The 7’0 265 pound center played against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night, defensively he once again had one of his best games of the year. Whiteside finished the game six points, 13 rebounds, one assist, one steal and six blocked shots in 30 minutes of work in a 97-75 road win.
“Hassan Whiteside was incredible. I personally haven’t seen a better shot blocker in the past nine years in the league. He’s really challenging a lot of shots and changing the whole game. He’s pretty good” said Marcin Gortat.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 3, 2016
The irony of this game is that the Wizards came into Miami last month and scored 114 points in a big time road win for their team. The Wizards were able to get it going offensively by playing their small ball lineup and it forced Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra’s hand to sit Whiteside in order to compete.
This time, there would be no sitting as he dominated against the same team that had him watching from the bench. You can call it revenge, or you can call it the overall team getting better. We’d like to think the latter because after Sunday night’s win against Washington, the Heat’s starting lineup finally reached into a positive plus-minus territory.
“It’s a negative. OK, what are going to do about it? And that took a lot of work, took a lot of practice time, it took some meetings, it took film sessions and it’s taken minutes in games, under pressure, under failure, under adversity, to go through all those things to make it better. And we’re still not where we want to be. But at least right now you’re starting to see them get more comfortable” said Spoelstra.
It’s not a secret how bad the offense for the Miami Heat actually is. They only score 97.2 points per game which is ranked as No. 25 in the league. There are only five other teams with a worse offense. What was impressive to see was that Miami was thinking creatively on ways to score that they hadn’t previously thought of before. Against the Wizards, the Heat played into Whiteside’s strengths as a shot blocker and a rebounder and they pushed the tempo each time he got a rebound or blocked a shot.
Miami scored a total of 10 fast break points and they were led on the break routinely by point guard Goran Dragic. The dynamic point guard finished with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and also had five dimes in the process. If Dragic can continue to play with the fire and efficiency that we saw him perform at then who knows how well this team can become.
What we do know is that this team looks like they’ve finally gelled into one of the premier teams in the league and it could’ve happened a better time.
“We’re not looking at the schedule and saying we should be 25-5. We don’t know what this team is going to be yet. No one knows. I have no idea. I know we have a good team” said shooting guard Dwyane Wade.
Miami will play against two Eastern Conference rivals upcoming with the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks rolling into town. Then later Miami will have to start their Western Conference road trip as they take on the putrid Phoenix Suns, and subsequently, the feisty Utah Jazz who like the Heat also have playoff aspirations.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.