Miami Heat: Is Hassan Whiteside Key For the Playoffs?
When it comes to Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat you’re going to find very strong opinions about the seven-footer who virtually came from nowhere to dropping right into the Miami Heat’s lap. After becoming a borderline All-Star in his second year with the organization, it’s clear more than ever that the Heat are going to have to rely on Whiteside even more than they did in the regular season because in less than a month he’ll be playing in his first taste of the NBA playoffs.
The walking double-double who averages 13.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game is playing his best basketball of the season right before the postseason. In his last five games he’s averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks while Miami has won three out of their last five including defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.
You can talk about the way that Whiteside might leave his defensive position to get blocks. You can talk about the way that he might mess up by getting into foul trouble. You can even talk about the way that he constantly will somewhat showboat after having a big time play. But each time you say one of those sentences, talk about the way he blocks shots and how they lead to easy fastbreak points for Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.
Or when you talk about him getting into foul trouble, mention that it’s because he’s going up for a rebound or because he’s trying with a lot of effort to stop the offensive player. Or when you mention how he starts to showboat after a play, keep in mind that he’s one of the most passionate in the league and when he does that his entire team, as well as the fans in the stands, gets energized.
The question is, can Whiteside do all of this and even more in the playoffs because if the Miami Heat want to win big, that’s what it’s going to take. This team has all of the pieces ready for a championship run and if they want to run the table in the East, they’ll need Whiteside with his best games.
For the Heat, their best offense is the fact that they can play great defense and when it comes to defense, there’s no other player in the league who’s more ferocious than Whiteside when it comes to blocking shots. This season in his first season playing more than 60 games Whiteside is going to end up as the eventual blocks champion.
“It’s something I’ve been doing since college. I led college in blocks. I led high school in blocks. I led China in blocks. I led the D-League in blocks. It’s kinda my standard. I always felt like I was the best at it. I led in blocks all around the world.”
-Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside
If that trend continues in the postseason, Miami will have an anchor inside to guard the interior to continue to play with their high-level of defense. Furthermore, the communication defensively is still getting better and it’s happening right before the playoffs.
“It’s what great teams have and we’re getting to that level. Someone misses a coverage or someone is not playing hard, it’s not personal. You’re still a good person. But at the end of the day for us to win we have to hold each other accountable. I think we’re getting to that level now as a team where if we lose games we lose the right way and just leave it all out there.”
-Miami Heat small forward Luol Deng
It’s a tradition that everyone in the stands wears white for the “White Hot” playoff run. When everyone is engaged it helps the players get more adrenaline and more energy which causes more effort into winning and right now few teams are winning and playing as well as Miami in the process.
Let’s hope that trend continues as April rolls around.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey