NEW YORK – Heat center Hassan Whiteside is looking for answers when it comes to his injured left knee.
“It has really been bothering me throughout the season. It had been bothering me since Orlando,” Whiteside said before sitting out tonight against the Knicks, the sixth game he will miss this season.
“We’re going to figure it out. We’re going to figure it out when we get back to Miami and figure out what’s wrong.”
Whiteside said the knee hurts whether he is running or jumping.
“There wasn’t a time on it,” he said when asked what the doctors told him following the injury. “You know, I sat out, I missed them games, I came back, and it’s still bothering me.”
The Heat (10-10) face the Knicks (10-10) in the finale of this four-game road trip. They are looking to go 3-1.
Whiteside missed five games at the start of the season and sat out practice Saturday before playing Sunday in Chicago and Tuesday in Cleveland. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he anticipated Whiteside would miss the Knicks game because of it coming on the second night of a back-to-back.
“It’s the same thing he’s been dealing with the last three weeks,” Spoelstra said. “Since he’s been back the days in between have been recovery days. So the back-to-back, anticipated he probably wouldn’t play today. We’ll get back to Miami and reevaluate him tomorrow.”
Although Whiteside already has had one MRI, Spoelstra said the Heat may have the doctors look at the knee again.
“It hasn’t gotten any worse necessarily just the schedule hasn’t let up and he really hasn’t been able to do two days of work in a row for a while,” Spoelstra said.
Whiteside’s availability for Friday’s home game against Charlotte is unknown.
Whiteside was injured when he banged knees with Magic center Nikola Vucevic in the season opener. He has played just 40 minutes the last two games, none in the fourth quarter. Spoelstra said the reduced playing time was not because of the knee but it was clear that Whiteside at times appeared affected by the injury.
Whiteside is averaging 14.9 points and 12.9 rebounds in 15 games. The injury, reported as a bone bruise, has not completely healed. He had 22 points (10-of-21 from the floor) and 23 rebounds in the last two games.
Bam Adebayo will start in Whiteside’s place. The 6-foot-10 rookie played for just the third time in 10 games during the Heat’s loss at Cleveland Tuesday. He scored 19 points in just more than 18 minutes on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds.
“That’s just what you want out of young player, to be prepared for your opportunity, make the most of it, be there for your teammates,” Spoelstra said. “He came in with great energy and did things right. Unfortunately everybody just notices it because he was 7 for 7 from the field. But he did a lot of good things defensively and on the glass and small things that don’t show up in the box score. ”
The Heat will be at a severe height disadvantage with Adebayo playing alongside 6-7 power forward Justise Winslow. The Heat will face a New York team that starts 6-foot-11 Enes Kanter at center and 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis at power forward. Kanter has missed the last three games because of back spasms but returns for tonight.
Kelly Olynyk has been getting virtually all of the backup minutes at center, but Spoelstra may not want to disrupt his rotation and keep the 7-foot Olynyk with the second unit and give Adebayo the start.
Adebayo played for just the third time in 10 games during the Heat’s loss at Cleveland Tuesday that was not competitive from early in the second quarter on. He scored 19 points in just more than 18 minutes on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds.