MIAMI — Just one day after Dion Waiters and Erik Spoelstra pointed to the Heat’s screen-setting as an issue, center Hassan Whiteside had another take on the subject.
“I mean, it’s just, it’s just, man, the guys aren’t being patient,” Whiteside said when asked about the issue after Tuesday’s practice. “Me and D-Wade showed that all year long. We ain’t had no problems. It’s just being patient, man, just be patient, wait for the screen and let guys set you up and make decisions.
“There’s so many lobs and those lobs just don’t make themselves. It has to be something.”
But Miami’s starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Waiters believe the screen-setter is at fault.
“It’s really important,” Dragic said. “If me and Dion want to get in the paint then of course we need good screens so we can get there and break down the guys and try to spray it or finish. When there’s no screen then it’s really tough because then you have two guards, two players with nowhere to go. So that’s why it’s really hard to get open shots and create open shots.”
Screening is a big part of the Heat’s drive-and-kick offense, as it allows penetrators like Dragic and Waiters to get into the paint. Miami entered Tuesday ranked second in the NBA with 52.9 drives per game.
The Heat average 8.6 screen assists per game, which is 12th most in the league. James Johnson (2.3 per game), Kelly Olynyk (2.1 per game) and Whiteside (2.2 per game) all rank in the top 50 in the NBA in screen assists.
“I think Kelly is really good at [setting screens],” Dragic said. “We need to get Hassan to do that. But, he got to that a little bit, he’s already shown he could do it. The Detroit game and Washington game, he was great. But we need to be consistent.
“Yeah, of course it’s a little bit different when the screen is on the side. If they push you down … you give them a look to slip for the lob. But especially at the top or at the 45 [degree angle] then we need to set screens and hold the screens so we can have a chance to play one-on-one with the big guy. Then the big guy needs to decide to take me or the big guy and then we can throw those lobs or take the open shot.”
Whiteside has been called for an illegal screen four times this season, which is sometimes due to the ball handler rushing the action. Although he’s averaging 2.2 screen assists per game this season, but had zero in Sunday’s loss to the Pacers.
“I’ve had a lot of offensive fouls [on screens],” Whiteside said. “Yeah, when you set the screen, you know as a big, you’re going to get open. So, if anything you’re going to want to set the screen and get yourself open, too, so it all comes down to it. So it’s just guys got to be patient, just be patient, wait for it, and let guys set their feet.”
But Spoelstra made it clear for the second consecutive day Tuesday that the Heat’s screening needs to improve.
“We need to be better,” Spoelstra said. “There’s no question, the level of detail. Yes, the little things really matter for us. And we have not been doing a good job with that. And we’ve worked at it hard, the last couple of days.”
Olynyk, who Dragic complimented as a “really good” screen-setter, knows how important this skill is to the Heat’s offense.
“I mean it’s huge,” Olynyk said. “You got to get the guards open. You get the guards open and set a good screen, you’re going to be open and they’re going to open. The defense is going to have to give. That’s the reason for the screen is to create an advantage. If you’re not creating an advantage, you’re kind of two ships passing in the night and nobody is going to notice.”
Dragic mentioned that he and Waiters have spoken to Whiteside about the issue.
“We already sat down and watched the tape,” Dragic said.