“It’s just different, man. I feel like our offense is a lot different. I’m not as involved in as many dribble handoffs as I was and post-ups as I was in the regular season,” Whiteside said after scoring five points in 13 minutes in Miami’s Game 3 loss to Philadelphia. “That’s what coach [Erik Spoelstra] wants. Coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks. That’s what he wants. I’ve just got to trust it.”
In three games against the Sixers, Whiteside is averaging just 3.7 points and four rebounds in 13 minutes. He averaged 14 points and 11.4 rebounds in 25.3 minutes in the regular season.
Whiteside said there were things he could do to be more productive but also suggested that he’d like to play more minutes.
“I want to get more rebounds out there. I want to get more minutes out there. I’m just going to keep trusting coach’s decision-making,” Whiteside said. “Even with the fouls, I still could have been out there. I wouldn’t have fouled out. I am going to keep trusting coach’s decision-making.”
Earlier this season, Whiteside was fined an undisclosed amount by the Heat for “comments detrimental to the team” in response to his remarks expressing frustration over a diminished role.
The center didn’t use a frustrated tone Thursday when discussing his role in the playoffs.
Whiteside’s diminished minutes in the first two games of the series were due, in part, to the Sixers playing smaller lineups with Joel Embiid (orbital fracture) sidelined.
Embiid returned for Game 3 but that didn’t lead to more playing time for Whiteside. The Heat center picked up two fouls in the opening six minutes of the first quarter and was limited by foul trouble for much of the game.
Spoelstra has said several times during the series that it is his responsibility to get more from Whiteside, who signed a $98 million contract with the Heat after the 2015-16 season.
“He might not necessarily put up the numbers, but it’s part of my job to figure it out and figure out how he can get to his strengths and be an impact player for us,” Spoelstra said after the Heat’s loss. “It starts with the defense, the rebounding. He has a lot of responsibilities for us offensively. I’ll spend some time working that out in the next day in a half.”