Welcome to Bulletin Board, the Miami Herald’s weekday roundup covering everything in the South Florida sports scene. Today, we recap a busy weekend filled with the brewing fallout between the Miami Heat and Hassan Whiteside, the end of a Miami Open era, the and more.
Whiteside is upset with the Heat, and he’s letting everyone know it
Hassan Whiteside didn’t play in the fourth quarter or in overtime during the Miami Heat’s 110-109 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday as the Heat opted to go with a smaller lineup down the stretch.
That apparently was the last straw for Whiteside.
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After the game, Whiteside ranted about his frustrations with the coaching staff’s decisions to leave him on the bench late in games that have typically gone down to the wire. The team has since slapped the 28-year-old center with an undisclosed fine.
“It’s annoying,” Whiteside said. “We shouldn’t... Why are we matching up? We’ve got one of the best centers in the league. Why are we matching up?”
This places the Heat in an interesting predicament. Whiteside still has two years left on his four-year, $98 million contract after this year and he hasn’t fully lived up to the billing. This year alone, Whiteside has missed 28 games because of injury and is averaging just 25.6 minutes, 14.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game — all below his averages from the past two seasons.
Whiteside is due to be paid $24.4 million next season and has a player option worth $27.1 million for the 2019-20 season.
How this plays out will be worth following, especially as the Heat continues its push to clinch a spot in the playoffs and finalize its seeding for postseason play.
Miami clinches a postseason berth with either a win or a Detroit Pistons loss. The Heat next plays Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against the Atlanta Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Miami Open bids farewell to Key Biscayne
Sunday marked the end of an era. The Miami Open saw its last match played at its tropical Key Biscayne home after 32-year-old American John Isner overpowered emerging German star Alexander “Sascha” Zverev 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4 in a scintillating men’s final befitting the historic occasion.
After Isner unleased three consecutive aces to clinch the match, the crowd began chanting “Key Biscayne! Key Biscayne!”
One day earlier, Plantation native Sloane Stephens won her first Miami Open title when she defeated sixth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. It marked the first time since 2004 that Americans swept the singles titles at the event.
The tournament, which had been played at Key Biscayne since 1987 and has had its share of memories over the last three-plus decades, will now be held at Hard Rock Stadium beginning in 2019.
Can the Marlins keep up momentum after splitting with the Cubs?
Somehow, someway, the Miami Marlins found a way to split their season-opening series with the Chicago Cubs.
The final game on Sunday — a 6-0 Marlins win — might be the most telling.
Starting pitcher Dillon Peters tossed six shutout innings and the bullpen held firm to close out the win. Seven of eight starters in the field reached base.
“It tells me we belong in the same league as the Cubs,” Peters said. “They’re a very good baseball team. They can hit the ball. We just outfought them today.”
And don’t forget the Marlins managed to split the series with some of their top players - catcher J.T. Realmuto, pitcher Dan Straily, third baseman Martin Prado - opening the year on the disabled list.
Now the question remains: Can the Marlins find a way to sustain a semblance of success throughout the season?
The next chance to find out is with a two-game home series against the Boston Red Sox on Monday and Tuesday to close out the six-game homestand.
Time is running out for the Panthers to make a playoff push
At one point, it seemed almost inevitable that the Florida Panthers would make it to the playoffs. That’s what happens when a team comes out of the All-Star break and wins 19 of 26 games.
But after the last week, playoff hockey is anything but a certainty now for the Panthers.
Florida has picked up just one point in its last three games - a 4-3 loss to Toronto on Tuesday, a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa on Thursday and a 5-1 loss to Boston on Saturday. With that, the Panthers are now seven points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with just five games left to play.
The Panthers will need help to make it to the postseason for the sixth time in the franchise’s history, but first, they need to win as much as possible during this final week of the regular season. They play their next four games at home - Monday against Carolina, Tuesday against Nashville, Thursday against Boston and Saturday against Buffalo - before closing the season at Boston on Sunday.
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