4. The Heat have a Hassan Whiteside-sized headache
Heading into the series, Hassan Whiteside’s battle with himself loomed as one of the main keys for Miami. He projected to be a major factor if he could stay engaged on both ends of the court, particularly with Embiid on the mend in Games 1 and 2.
Instead, Whiteside went missing in action.
Across all five games, Miami’s $98 million man finished with 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting, 30 rebounds and six blocks in 77 minutes. For the sake of comparison, Embiid had 56 points on 15-of-36 shooting, 31 rebounds and nine blocks in 91 minutes despite missing the first two games of the series,
“At least give me a chance to fight,” Whiteside griped after Game 5. “At least give me a chance to fight. I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance.”
Whiteside cited head coach Erik Spoelstra’s desire to “utilize more spacing” as the reason for his limited playing time, but teammate Dwyane Wade was having none of it, telling the big man, “Don’t give yourself an excuse.” Yes, the 76ers rendered him somewhat irrelevant by playing spacing-heavy lineups with Ersan Ilyasova in a stretch 5 role, but it isn’t as though the Marshall product dominated his time on the floor with Embiid, either.
Whiteside is owed $25.4 million in 2018-19 and has a $27.1 player option the following season, which puts Miami between a rock and a hard place. It’s difficult to imagine the Heat recouping much value for an oft-frustrated, non-3-point-shooting center if they were to trade him, but Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo appear to be better fits for Spoelstra’s system.
Next: 3. Joel Embiid's mask could be an issue