Heat Clinch Playoff Berth And This Is When Whiteside Is Needed Most

Alex Donno
April 05, 2018 - 7:57 am
Whiteside Hawks

© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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Miami Heat fans breathed a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday night, as the team clinched a playoff berth in their 101-98 home win over the Atlanta Hawks. 

That’s great, and we should all be excited, but this team is not going anywhere unless they get a focused, assertive Hassan Whiteside in the postseason. If you get immature, pouty Hassan, the playoffs will be over for you in a flash. 

Whiteside monopolized South Florida’s sports headlines early in the week after his expletive-filled rant about not getting enough playing time late in games. “We got one of the best centers in the league,” he said, referring to himself. “Why we matching up? A lot of teams don’t have a good center. They’re going to use their strength. It’s bull——. It’s really bull——, man.”

His comments reignited a debate among Heat fans as to whether Whiteside should be traded this offseason. 

“I think the crybaby act is over,” said WQAM host Zach Krantz. “I don’t think Pat Riley is going to deal with this much longer.”

Later in the week, Whiteside admitted he could have handled his frustration differently. “But I got so caught up in wanting to get that win.” He was fined by the Heat for “comments detrimental to the team” and responded in the next game like a man on a mission. 

Against the Hawks on Tuesday, Whiteside dominated with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. His tip-in with a minute left put his team ahead for good. He earned his minutes and shined in the fourth quarter. 

Do we need Spoelstra to fine Whiteside before every playoff game to get this sort of response? We need angry Whiteside in the playoffs!

Spoelstra goes away from Whiteside late in certain games when the opponent goes small. The speed of today’s NBA calls for a quicker lineup in these spots. In the playoffs, everything slows down. This will play perfectly into Whiteside’s strength. The need for a dominant rim protector will be at an all-time high. 

After hearing Whiteside’s rant, Shaquille O’Neal offered him some free advice. 

Shaq said he understands why Hassan is unhappy about his playing time, “but he needs to understand strategy. If I was him, I would say OK I’m going to let coach do what he do, but I’m going to get a rest. Because playoff time when the game slows down, they’re going to need you, big man. Don’t let all that stuff [bother you].”

Shaq added: “I know as a player we want to play all the games. But I didn’t win championships until I had fifteen, twenty games off.”

Dominance from Whiteside in the playoffs would be the best way for him to show Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley that he isn’t expendable. Perhaps his skills are obsolete in certain regular season games, but in the postseason he’s a valuable commodity. 

As talented as Whiteside is, he won’t just fall out of bed and record triple-doubles with blocks in the first round. He needs to put aside his frustration with Spo and redirect that aggression toward the opponents on the court. 

“He’d better have a real nice playoff run here and finish the season strong,” said WQAM’s Joe Rose. 

If Whiteside can do that, he can show Pat Riley and the world that his 98 million dollar contract was money well spent.