A six-pack of Heat notes on a Wednesday:
▪ TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal, who has spent a bit of time with Hassan Whiteside during the past two years, has some advice about how Whiteside should handle his frustration about sometimes not playing late in games.
“Sometimes as a player you have to understand strategy,” O’Neal said. “Yes Whiteside is a big man; he’s a fabulous big man. But he’s not the traditional big man which you call the term five.
“When teams go small, Erik Spoelstra knows what he’s doing, says, ‘Hey, let’s go small, let’s trap, let’s rotate, get some steals, create some fast breaks. [Whiteside] has a legitimate beef. He really does. He made the comments hey, there’s lot of teams that want a center. He is correct.
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“But he needs to understand strategy. If I was him, I would say OK I’m going to [let] coach do what he do, but I’m going to get a rest. Because playoff time when the game slows down, they’re going to need you, big man. Don’t let all that stuff [bother you]. I know as a player we want to play all the games. But I didn’t win championships until I had 15, 20 games off.”
Whiteside played late in Tuesday’s playoff-clinching win against Atlanta and played well, including hitting the go-ahead basket late.
▪ When Whiteside has played in clutch time (defined by the NBA as the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer), the Heat has outscored teams by 23 points in 76 minutes.
That’s fifth on the team behind Kelly Olynyk (plus-49), Josh Richardson (plus-42), Wayne Ellington (plus-35) and Goran Dragic (plus-35).
Dwyane Wade, incidentally, is a zero plus/minus in the clutch with the Heat. Bam Adebayo is a team-worst minus-35.
Incidentally, Whiteside leads the team in clutch shooting at 61.9 percent (13 for 21).
▪ The Heat’s starting lineup of Dragic, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Richardson and Whiteside is now a minus-9 for the season in 176 overall minutes.
▪ With two blocks in the final 1.3 seconds of Tuesday’s win, Richardson became the first player with two blocks in the final two seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime since A’mare Stoudemire did it for the Phoenix Suns against Sacramento in overtime on Nov. 14, 2008.
▪ By making the playoffs, the Heat assured that its first-round pick in June will be forwarded to Phoenix as part of the Dragic trade. That pick would have been retained by Miami this season only if it had been in the top seven.
After that pick is utilized on draft night, Miami will be permitted to trade its 2019 first-round pick, which could be a helpful chip in the Heat’s efforts this summer to acquire an All-Star player or potentially dump salary as a step toward giving itself more flexibility.
The Heat also owes Phoenix a first-round pick in 2021 to complete the Dragic trade.
▪ The Heat has played 52 games that have been close late — a margin of five points or fewer in the final five minutes — and is 28-24 in those games. Those 52 are the most in the league, three ahead of Houston.
The Heat’s 47.2 percent shooting in clutch moments is fifth in the league.
“I don’t know what it is, but we always make it interesting at the end of those games,” Dragic said. “I’m hoping [Wednesday] is not going to be close, but you know, that’s us.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, on the Heat: “They drive the ball and attack the basket. Really helps them spread the ball and slash you with their shooting. I think they are just a really good team and well coached as always. Their physicality and athleticism really stands out.”