2016 NBA playoffs: Hassan Whiteside to start, Tyler Johnson out

Tyler Johnson is out Game 1, but has plenty of time to get back in uniform during this series. (Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson is out Game 1, but has plenty of time to get back in uniform during this series. (Getty Images)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has no aversion to reworking his rotation throughout a playoff series — he said Friday, “there is no rotation in the playoffs” — and it is unlikely he’ll hold to the same starting lineup unless that group looks unstoppable.

For now, though, he’s sticking with Hassan Whiteside as his starting center. For most of the last two and a half months Spoelstra has been starting Amar’e Stoudemire and playing him 12-20 minutes with Whiteside getting closer to 30 minutes coming off the bench.

A week ago, though, he bumped Whiteside into the starting five and said he will open the first-round series against Charlotte that way.

“It’s fine,” said Stoudemire, who did not play two of the final three games of the regular season. “I don’t think it was planned. It happened spontaneously. It’s OK because I think Hassan played well in his role when he was coming off the bench and now he has the confidence to get us off to a good start. It’s gonna work out well for us, and we hope that he’s able to play at a high level.”

As far as the rest of Miami’s personnel, Goran Dragic (elbow) and Udonis Haslem (foot) are expected to be fully available.

Chris Bosh has not been ruled out, but the team has given no indication it expects him back this season.

Tyler Johnson was a bit of a mystery the past few weeks as he originally thought he’d be back for a couple regular-season games, but that proved unrealistic. Spoelstra said he was not in game shape as of Saturday, and the team officially listed him as out. That’s nonbinding, of course, but Johnson didn’t sound like he was close to playing when he spoke to the media at the regular-season finale in Boston.

The upside for Johnson is that the playoff schedule is much more spaced out than the regular season. He still has four days, for example, to rehab before Game 2 and three more days after that if he wants to target Game 3.

[2016 NBA playoffs: Hornets still shook by Whiteside’s blocked shots]

[2016 NBA playoffs: Who are “they” and why don’t “they” want the Heat to win?]

[2016 NBA playoffs: A player-by-player look at the Miami Heat’s experience]

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