With Kelly Olynyk’s minutes down, the question is why haven’t Hassan Whiteside and Olynyk played together since the opener?

WASHINGTON — Why haven’t the Heat played big men Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk together more this season? Olynyk doesn’t have a definitive answer.

“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know,” Olynyk said when asked that question in advance of Friday’s game against the Wizards. “I don’t think we gave it a very big sample size. [Whiteside] got hurt there for a little bit. But yeah, I don’t control that. So I just go out there and play with whoever is on the floor at the time I’m out there.”

The 7-foot Whiteside and the 7-foot-Olynyk started together in Miami’s season-opening loss to the Magic on Oct. 18. The Heat were outscored by eight points in the 10 minutes they were on the court at the same time in that game.

Those are the only 10 minutes Whiteside and Olynyk have played together this season entering Friday. Whiteside went on to miss the next five games with a bone bruise in his left knee, and Olynyk has since been playing the role of backup center.

“I don’t know, man,” Whiteside said Friday when asked about the challenges a lineup featuring Olynyk and himself can pose to opponents. “I haven’t seen it enough. We don’t even practice together. I don’t know. I can’t really tell you. I haven’t seen it enough.”

Kelly Olynyk #9 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Quincy Acy #13 of the Brooklyn Nets in the first half during their Pre Season game at Barclays Center on October 5, 2017 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

With Olynyk playing solely as Miami’s backup center recently, his minutes have gone down. This role limits Olynyk’s playing time to when Whiteside is on the bench, and Whiteside is averaging 28.5 minutes of playing time per game.

Since Whiteside returned from injury, Olynyk is averaging 15.8 minutes of playing time over a span of eight games entering Friday’s matchup against the Wizards. That’s probably not enough for Olynyk, who the Heat signed to a four-year, $50 million contract in July.

“It’s tough. I would love to get K.O. more minutes,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday after the Heat’s shootaround session at Georgetown University. “I’m trying to figure out the rotation. It’s something I’m still working on. The league is getting a little bit smaller and quicker and faster. Sometimes at the outset is when you have the best chance to play a little bit bigger. But I like what I’m seeing right now with this starting group, so we’ll see.”

Since starting Olynyk next to Whiteside in the season opener, Spoelstra has gone through three different starting power forwards — James Johnson, Okaro White and Justise Winslow.

The Heat’s decision to go away from a big lineup featuring Whiteside and Olynyk is not unusual, though. In an NBA full of small-ball , the Bulls are the only team in the league starting two 7-footers together on a consistent basis with a frontcourt of Robin Lopez and Lauri Markkanen.

Olynyk can stretch the floor with his outside shooting and perimeter game to make life easier for Whiteside, but there are some concerns when it comes to defending athletic power forwards. But Olynyk thinks the pairing can work.

“He’s just such a force down low and he really kind of just draws so much attention that it opens up some spaces on the floor for a lot of other people,” Olynyk said of Whiteside. “Hopefully if I’m out there, that kind of spaces the floor for him and allows him to work a little more down low and not to work with digs and double teams and guys trapping down, and that kind of stuff.

“And then obviously defensively, he’s a great guy to have behind you blocking shots and protecting the rim and gets basically every rebound when he’s on the floor. So you don’t really have to worry about that as much. He does a lot of great things. He’s definitely a great guy to play beside and have on your team.”

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