Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned to action tonight after missing five games with a bone bruise on his left knee. Although Whiteside’s absence has been part of the reason for a disappointing 2-4 start, there are other factors, explains Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
Those include a defense that has slipped from fifth in points allowed last season to 23rd so far this year and 3-point shooting that ranks 27th in the league. Miami is also reeling from the loss of Rodney McGruder, who will miss three to six months after undergoing surgery for a left tibia stress fracture. “He’s always in the right spot, he’s always getting those 50/50 balls, even if it’s 70 against 30,” Goran Dragic said of the second-year shooting guard. “We don’t know how but he’s going to get that ball. Those are game changers.”
There’s more from Miami:
- The Heat held a team meeting Sunday to let players discuss the reasons for the slow start, Jackson writes in the same story. Tyler Johnson said coach Erik Spoelstra opened the meeting, followed by the team captains, then other players. “Sometimes I forget what got me here is undeniable energy and hunger,” Johnson said. “Nobody can keep me from being able to do my job. Whoever is matched up in front of me, I didn’t care who they were, if they were an all-star. That Rodney McGruder type attitude. We definitely do need to get back to that.”
- After posting his first double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Timberwolves, rookie Bam Adebayo credited his time at Kentucky for helping him get ready for the NBA, Jackson adds. Adebayo said Wildcats coach John Calipari teaches players to put the organization above their own goals. “If you sacrifice for the better of the team, that means you care about the team more than yourself,” Adebayo said. “Kentucky is a blueprint for the NBA.”
- Justise Winslow has relied on speed more than bulk while making the move to power forward, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The third-year player, who was limited to 18 games last season by wrist and shoulder problems, has dropped 10 pounds and embraced his new duties. “I think he’s quick, he’s faster, he’s able to get to the ball quicker,” Spoelstra said. “So much of having 12 rebounds in a game is quickness to the ball. And he’s got a knack to the ball, but now he can really get to it quickly.”