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Heat center Hassan Whiteside responds to decreased role in Miami

Hassan Whiteside, Heat

Since returning from a left knee injury, Hassan Whiteside has played in 10 games for the Miami Heat. The starting center is yet to play 30 minutes or more in any of those 10 contests. He averages 24 minutes per game in this span, contributing 12.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks on 50 percent shooting.

Those stats are certainly not bad, but they are down from the 27 minutes, 14.9 points, and 12.7 rebounds through the rest of his games this season. Not only is he playing less, but he has also been benched for the whole fourth quarter in five of his last 10 games.

According to Tom D’Angelo from Palm Beach Post, Whiteside spoke about the topic saying:

“It’s whatever [head coach Erik Spoelstra] wants. That’s what Coach Spo wants to do, that’s the lineup he wants to go with. … he thinks is going to get us the win. I can’t do nothing about it.”

In his last game, Whiteside played just under 20 minutes. Spoelstra subbed Whiteside out with about six minutes left in the third quarter. He sat the rest of the game and saw how the Chicago Bulls snapped the Heat’s seven-game winning streak.

Coach Spoelstra seems to make substitutions and decide who plays according to matchups. When asked about Whiteside sitting in the fourth quarter, Spoelstra said:

“It goes however it goes. We didn’t get the job done. That’s the bottom line. We were in a hole. At that point, you got to make whatever decisions you can make to try to get back into the game. It looked like we were getting it back. We got it to six and then they made bigger plays down the stretch.”

Whiteside had recorded four straight double-doubles before Monday’s game and could not extend the stretch to five. Spoelstra said he did not look at those things when making decisions in-game:

“I actually don’t care about his double-doubles at all. It has nothing to do with that. Sometimes he gets confused by that barometer. It has everything to do with winning plays and making an impact to help your team win.”

The coach’s decisions seem to be working out well when looking at the big picture. Miami is now sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, only one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.