Whiteside crunching boards
MIAMI — Apparently, Hassan Whiteside eats boards for breakfast.
At least that’s the perspective of teammate Kelly Olynyk after watching Whiteside join Rony Seikaly as only the second player in the Miami Heat’s 31 seasons to grab 20 rebounds in consecutive games.
“It’s pretty unique, honestly,” Olynyk said, with the Heat playing the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I mean, I haven’t played with a lot of guys who just go and get 20 rebounds like it’s eating Cap’n Crunch in the morning.”
After grabbing 20 rebounds in Wednesday’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, Whiteside secured another 20 in Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Whiteside’s third 20-rebound game of the season put him at 18 with the Heat, three shy of Seikaly’s franchise record. It was the first time he did so in consecutive games, something Seikaly did four times, twice in 1991 and twice in 1993.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said it was the offseason work held out of view of media and fans that has produced these results.
“He really prepared for this season this summer,” Spoelstra said. “And at training camp and preseason practices, he had quite a few performances like this, where we were the only ones that saw it.
“You keep on bringing that type of energy and focus every day, then eventually that just becomes who you are.”
Whiteside has stated a goal of making it back home to Charlotte as a first-time AllStar, going onto the weekend leading the league in blocked shots and second in rebounding.
“I’m working. That’s what coach wants from me. He wants me to get every rebound,” he said. “I’m just collecting the balls, trying to get the break started.”
Sometimes at a cost to teammates — in a good way.
“It’s impeccable, what he’s doing,” Olynyk said. “I’m struggling out there to get like four or five rebounds because he’s just gobbling everything up. You have good rebounders Heat cetner Hassan Whiteside is rebounding at a record pace.
who rebound and make an extra effort, then you have great rebounders that rebound and rebound outside of their area. That’s what he’s getting to, is an elite-level rebounder.
“And he’s rebounding basically a whole 15-foot circle around the basket. Anything that lands within 15 feet of the basket is his rebound. And it’s pretty crazy to see. But it’s something that’s making us really tough. Hopefully he can keep that up on both ends of the floor.”
Rare pair: Saturday’s game concluded just the 20th set of back-to-back home games for the Heat. The Heat entered the set having swept such a pairing of home games on consecutive nights six times, having split nine times and having been swept four times.
The Heat also will play home games on consecutive nights Feb. 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Feb. 2 against the Pacers. This is just the sixth season that the Heat have been scheduled for multiple sets of home games on consecutive nights.
Contrasting view: Neither Pacers forward Thaddeus Young nor Indiana coach Nate McMillan thought Young deserved his ejection for a third-quarter Flagrant 2 foul Friday night against Olynyk.
“I went over him and hit him with the inside of my elbow,” Young said. “If I was trying to hit him, I would have connected with the outside of my elbow. I think it was a bad call because all I did was pivot.”
Said McMillan, “Olynyk was guarding him really tight and his elbow just came down on him. Therefore, I didn’t think that was an intentional foul where he was looking to take Olynyk out in that play. As Thadd said himself, he was looking at the play and trying to execute. He wasn’t intentionally trying to take Olynyk out. Hopefully they look at that and they don’t fine him for that.”