The Miami HEAT completed a 7 game home stretch with a 6-1, wrapping it up with 17-point win against the New York Knicks. We are seeing the evolution of the Heat’s team defense come together as they held the Knicks to just 30 points on 29% shooting in the first half. Many wondered how Hassan Whiteside would fair against rising star Kristaps Porzingis. Whiteside wasn’t concerned though.
It wasn’t all about Whiteside, however. The HEAT gave fans a solid performance with a team effort. Coach Erik Spoelstra seemed impressed by the fact that the win involved production from the entire team and not a standout performance by one or two players.
“You could see some defensive habits being built, and in this game, I think it’s fitting there wasn’t a star of the game. It was more of a team effort.”
As we have seen before, Whiteside was the protector of the rim, and now we are also seeing rookie Justise Winslow becoming more and more of a defensive presence around the perimeter. Many wonder how Whiteside would fair against the highly talked about Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis. When asked, Hassan makes it clear that while he’s happy that Porzingis is doing well thus far, there was no way he was allowing the Knicks rising star to have an easy go at the American Airlines Arena.
It wasn’t just Whiteside on Porzingis. Spoelstra mixed it up using even Luol Deng against the 7-footer. The difference between the two is 6 inches. Porzingis still managed to finish with a double-double, 20 points and 14 rebounds, but this wasn’t the same Porzingis that we’ve seen in other games. The HEAT managed to contain him and prevent him from giving the Knicks the spark they would need to take away the HEAT’s home court advantage.
The next stop is Detroit to take on the Pistons followed by a quick Knicks rematch. While it’s going to be a little harder to make Porzingis uncomfortable on his home court, Whiteside certainly seems undaunted by the task.