This past Saturday night, the Miami Heat got absolutely dominated by the Philadelphia 76ers, who won Game 1 of their first-round playoff matchup 130-103. Tonight, the Heat has a chance to put that embarrassment behind the team in Game 2.
There's one big first step Erik Spoelstra can take: When the starting lineups take the floor, Hassan Whiteside should be sitting on the bench. Kelly Olynyk should take Whiteside's place in the lineup in Game 2, and Bam Adebayo should be the first center to come off the bench for the Heat.
Whiteside should be done for the whole series, and, really, his Heat career should be over. Miami made a mistake by making him the highest-paid player on the team, and it's time to move on from him and his terrible attitude ASAP.
Saturday, Whiteside played 12 uninspiring minutes and scored only two points. He seemed disengaged the entire game, even with a huge matchup disadvantage against Sixers journeyman Amir Johnson. You'd think a center like Whiteside, who tells the world how amazing he is every chance he gets, would smell blood in the water with the Sixers missing superstar big man Joel Embiid in the first game.
Nope. Whiteside had his worst game of the season in the biggest game of the year for the Heat. Just four minutes into the second half, Coach Spoelstra had seen enough and pulled Whiteside for good. The team's best matchup and highest-paid player was a no-show and, even worse, a liability who needed to be taken off the court.
The performance was unacceptable, and it was just the latest example of why the Heat needs to call an early end to the Whiteside era. They must move on from him in the offseason, and in the present, they should keep him on the bench.
Whiteside was absolutely brutal all game long during the playoffs' first contest. Olynyk and Adebayo were clearly better options, and much of it had to do with effort.
Heat, incidentally, has been outscored by 16 in Whiteside's 12 minutes (certainly not all on him, but he hasn't made much impact). And Miami has now been outscored by 91 points with Whiteside on the court this season.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 15, 2018
"Man, f*** me" - Hassan Whiteside (I think) pic.twitter.com/gvWjF9otLG— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 15, 2018
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Whiteside looked disengaged on defense from the opening tip. Sixers have done a great job helping off the Heat's non-shooters.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 15, 2018
I can't put enough trash emojis next to Hassan Whiteside's name. https://t.co/X47Lk22Xl8— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 15, 2018
The Heat has played this back-and-forth game with Whiteside long enough. Oh, you can be sure he will have a 20-point, 20-rebound game at some point to pull everyone back in, but his inconsistency and unreliability
Saturday was the last straw. Whiteside must go. And tonight, he should wear a suit.