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Hassan Whiteside reacts to coming off the bench

Hassan Whiteside, Heat

The Miami Heat need to be at their best down the stretch of the season to win a heated race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Good thing Hassan Whiteside, then, will apparently play good soldier despite coming off the bench on Tuesday for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

“If that’s what coach wants, that’s what he wants,” Whiteside said on Wednesday of being replaced as a starter by Bam Adebayo, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “I got nothing to say. I don’t really know.”

Whiteside came off the bench in the Heat’s crucial 114-113 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. He’d missed his team’s previous three games with a hip injury, leading some to speculate that the 29 year old will eventually make his way back to the starting lineup once he re-acclimates to game speed. Spoelstra, though, hasn’t publicly committed one way or another to the change, and Whiteside seems to already be looking for ways to stay effective as a reserve.

“You’re going to play against the backup guys. It’s a little different,” Whiteside said of coming off the bench. “You can read the game a little more, kind of see what’s going on, who’s hot, what kind of schemes they’re going with. It gives you some advantages. As far as being a starter, you come out warmer.”

The Heat have another huge game on Wednesday night when they visit the Charlotte Hornets, with whom they are tied for eighth in the standings, in a game that will have major playoff implications for both clubs.