Hassan Whiteside played just 15 minutes in the Miami Heat’s Game 2 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Monday. He got into early foul trouble, never returned after he committed his fourth foul with 9:25 left in the third quarter and even heard “Whiteside sucks!” chants from the Sixers fans.
Erik Spoelstra, though, felt encouraged with his starting center.
The Heat coach called Whiteside’s activity level “superb” and said his 15 minutes of playing time were “much needed.”
Spoelstra may have referred to Whiteside’s second-quarter minutes. In the final two minutes of the first quarter last night, Ersan Ilyasova grabbed two offensive rebounds and converted on the second-chance bucket both times. In the first minute of the second quarter, Bam Adebayo missed three consecutive tip-in attempts. Then, Spoelstra subbed in Whiteside for the rookie.
A little more than a minute into his stint of action, Dwyane Wade found Whiteside for an alley-oop. Fifty-three seconds later, Whiteside grabbed a defensive board off a Ben Simmons errant shot. Later in the quarter, Whiteside rebounded a Justise Winslow missed floater and got fouled on a put-back attempt. He made both free-throws.
It may not seem like much, but that rebounding was critical for a Heat team that suffered from some Sixers offensive boards early on Monday night. And Wade will continue to find Whiteside for alley-oops if the big man can stay out of foul trouble. Besides, if Joel Embiid returns for the Sixers, Whiteside will need to defend him; Olynyk can’t.