Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expects ‘healthier, stronger, faster, better’ Hassan Whiteside when center returns

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Erik Spoelstra told international reporters Tuesday he expects center Hassan Whiteside to return soon and believes the Heat center will be a much better version of himself when he come back.

“All things considered this is something that we don’t think is really a big injury that will have him out for a significant period of time,” Spoelstra said about Whiteside’s left knee bone bruise. “I think he’ll be back pretty soon and I think you’ll get a healthier, stronger, faster better version of Hassan when he comes back.”

Miami’s Hassan Whiteside suffered a second bone bruise on the same knee during this victory over Boston two weeks ago. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

Whiteside, the Heat’s 7-foot defensive anchor, will miss his fourth consecutive game tonight when the Heat visit the Spurs after suffering the bone bruise, his second this season, two weeks ago in a game against Boston. He also is out for the final two games of this road trip against Brooklyn and at Memphis on Monday.

The earliest Whiteside can make his return will be Dec. 13 when the Heat return home to face Portland.

Spoelstra, who along with Goran Dragic took part in a video-conference call in advance of the Heat’s game in Mexico City Saturday against Brooklyn, was asked if he was “worried” about Whiteside.

“No,” he said. “Hassan has been a very reliable player for the 3½ years he’s been with us. He takes care of his body.”

Spoelstra then told reporters as he was headed to the call he saw Whiteside in the weight room doing a sprint bike workout.

“He’s going to be ready,” Spoelstra said. “It’s unfortunate he’s had to go through the bone bruise.”

The Heat are 3-5 without Whiteside this season. He is averaging 14.9 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 58 percent. But he’s missed most defensively. The Heat have allowed 99.3 points per 100 possessions when Whiteside has been on the court this season, compared to 107.7 points per 100 possessions when he’s not playing. In the past three games without Whiteside, the Heat have posted the league’s third-worst defensive rating (114.9 points per 100 possessions).

“It’s tough,” Dragic said when asked about playing without Whiteside. “Hassan is a big part of this team. He’s one of the main guys. His ability to protect the paint and get a lot of blocked shots and rebounds. It’s always tough when you’re missing this type of player.”

Whiteside missed five game early this season with a bruise to a different bone in the same knee.

Bam Adebayo will receive his fourth consecutive start in place of Whiteside. He is averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in his last four games.

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