Hassan Whiteside has turned into a different animal since the All-Star break. Without Chris Bosh (blood clots) in the lineup, Whiteside has graciously accepted a reserve role from coach Erik Spoelstra and has put up SIX STRAIGHT double-doubles – averaging 19.7 points and 15.5 boards during that span.
It’s a welcome sight down in South Beach because Whiteside tailed off a bit after starting really strong to begin 2015. Now that Whiteside’s coming off the bench, he is feasting on second unit guys while anchoring the defense and scoring down low.
The latest example was his 26-point (on 8-11 shooting), 14-rebound, 4-block performance in a 129-111 victory over Chicago on Tuesday. When Whiteside entered the game midway through the first, Pau Gasol & Taj Gibson were already replaced by Cristiano Felicio and Bobby Portis.
Not that imposing, right??
Dwyane Wade immediately found Whiteside for a couple of easy scores and got the big man going early. Once some confidence was built, Whiteside unleashed his vastly improved midrange J, which he was able to convert both early on and late in the fourth when Chicago reeled off a 16-3 run.
Whiteside’s willingness and activity off the bench offers a whole new dynamic for Miami, who is thriving after shifting Luol Deng to the four spot, keeping Amar’e Stoudemire engaged (had 5 blocks in 14 minutes) and running more with Goran Dragic and Wade.
With Joe Johnson adding a new scoring dynamic (24 points, 4 dimes in the W), the HEAT are in a nice position to secure home court advantage in the first round.
Though Bosh may miss the rest of the season, Whiteside’s continued emergence makes Miami an extremely difficult out in the postseason.