Welcome to Bulletin Board, the Miami Herald’s weekday roundup covering everything in the South Florida sports scene. Among today’s topics, we look at the Miami Heat’s response to Hassan Whiteside’s rant from Saturday, a feel-good story from the Marlins and the Panthers’ continued playoff pursuit.
Whiteside regrets rant
Hassan Whiteside knows he could have handled the situation better. He admitted as much Monday, two days after he rattled off an expletive-filled rant about being benched for the fourth quarter and overtime of the Heat’s 110-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets and one day after the team handed him a fine for that rant.
The 28-year-old center — and highest paid player on Miami’s roster — cited his competitiveness as one of the main factors for his frustrations boiling over following the overtime loss on Saturday night.
“I could have handled it different,” Whiteside said, “but I got so caught up in wanting to get that win.”
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra talked one-on-one with Whiteside about the poor timing and poor judgment of his blowup and added that Whiteside’s comments have had no impact on the locker room.
Regardless of how the situation plays out in the long run, the Heat still has business to take care of, and that starts with locking up a playoff berth.
Miami needs just one win in its final five games — or for the Detroit Pistons to lose one of their final five games — to clinch that postseason appearance. As for the Heat’s potential seeding, a comprehensive breakdown can be found here.
The Heat hosts the Hawks on Tuesday, with tipoff from AmericanAirlines Arena set for 7:30 p.m
Richards’ Marlins debut
Trevor Richards’ story is one worth telling.
Just two years ago, the 6-2 righty was playing in the independent Frontier League and almost gave up the sport after feeling his chance at reaching the Majors was dwindling. On Monday, Richards found himself standing on the mound at Marlins Park, making his Major League debut for the Marlins against the Boston Red Sox.
And while the outing didn’t end how he wanted - Richards drew the loss after giving up 5 earned runs in 4.1 innings - the 24-year-old showed some promise early on in the 7-3 loss.
Richards retired the first seven batters he faced and tossed three scoreless inning before getting into trouble. He gave up three runs with two outs in the fourth and then watched Hanley Ramirez rip a two-run home run to left field. He exited the game one batter later.
The Marlins opened scoring on a solo home run from rookie third baseman Brian Anderson in the second inning before the Red Sox jumped over Richards for those six runs in the fourth and fifth. They added a seventh run in the ninth on a Rafael Devers double that scored Ramirez. Miami scored a run each in the eighth and ninth on a Cameron Mayfield single and Starlin Castro groundout, but the rally was futile.
The Marlins (2-3) and Red Sox (4-1) close out their two-game series at 6:10 p.m. Tuesday at Marlins Park.
NFL Draft spotlight: Minkah Fitzpatrick
The NFL Draft is quickly approaching — the countdown is at 23 days. With that, it’s time to take a closer look at what players might be available when the Dolphins are on the clock at No. 11.
First up: Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The three-year starter and two-time All-American under Nick Saban has the potential to play either nickel and safety in the NFL and would help the Dolphins in pass coverage against tight ends — a spot the team struggled mightly last season. During his time with the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick intercepted nine passes, defended another 24 and recorded 171 tackles with five sacks.
“I’d say I’m strongest covering man-to-man. Whether it be inside corner or outside corner or at safety coming down in coverages man to man. It’s what I did pretty much my whole career at Alabama. I usually covered the top receiver on the offensive side of the ball unless he stayed outside all the time. But when it was a guy who moved around, I followed him around. So, I just think covering man to man.”
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have also scheduled a meeting with Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who is projected to be a mid-round pick.
Panthers’ playoff pursuit
Defenseman Alexander Petrovic scored a pivotal third-period goal to lift the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night and keep the Panthers in contention for a spot in the postseason.
The Panthers now move to within five points of the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left to play. Even with the win, Florida still has a lot of work to do - and needs some help - if it wants to clinch a trip to the playoffs.
With four games left - Tuesday against Nashville, Thursday against Boston, Saturday against Buffalo and Sunday at Boston - the Panthers can earn as many as eight more points in the regular season. The Devils, however, can eliminate the Panthers from postseason contention, by gaining four points in the standings during their final three games.
Other news and notes
▪ After 21 years away from the coaching scene, Don Shula’s oldest son will once again roam the sidelines.
▪ Dwyane Wade has some very strong feelings about the NBA’s last two minute report.
▪ FIU softball is battling to get back to a winning record, but a midweek win over the No. 4 Florida Gators is giving the team hope
▪ The Miami Marlins are saying farewell to their orange jerseys this sesaon
▪ Hurricanes men’s basketball sophomore Dewan Huell declared for the NBA draft on Monday but did not hire an agent
Want to receive this newsletter in your email? If so, subscribe here.