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Key Matchup: Hassan Whiteside vs. the Warriors frontcourt

Whiteside is a handful, thankfully, so are the Warrriors

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the Miami Heat shouldn’t be that much of a problem for the Golden State Warriors but for some reason, the Heat are one of the few teams that beat us last season. Even though Golden State has won eight of the last 11 meetings between the two teams the Heat managed to split the series last year, with each team winning at home.

Hassan Whiteside is the Heat’s second-leading scorer and their leading rebounder - by a significant margin. He’s developed into a dangerous player after a slow start to his career, but in case you’ve forgotten what this guy is capable of, here are the highlights of his game at Oracle in January of this year - the game ended up as a Warriors victory, but Whiteside’s 28 points, 20 rebounds, and two blocks was a major reason why the Heat were able to hang so tight.

Watching those plays it quickly becomes obvious why Whiteside is going to be a problem. He’s really big, really skilled, and is clever at using his motor to get into the best position.

The Warriors have their own answers now too, of course. As is the norm with coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors will go with multiple defenders at the center position - each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. This is the beauty of basketball too, because there’s no one player who is the best answer here. While Zaza Pachulia will be able to use his bulk to work to contain Whiteside and keep him off the glass, Javale McGee will try to out quick him, and Jordan Bell will attempt to out work him. Between the three, the Warriors should be able to avoid a repeat of the 28 and 20 performance we saw last time.

For coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, this is going to entail some roster and rotation shuffling. Zaza Pachulia tends to get somewhere between 10-20 minutes per game, and David West should get something in the range of 10-15 - those are the givens. Beyond that though, it will be interesting to see who Kerr goes to from there. So far in this young season, Kerr has deployed Jordan Bell and Javale McGee in equal measure - 74 minutes for McGee, and 73 minutes total for Bell. Bell, even though he’s the newcomer, has been having a tremendous and undeniable impact.

Kerr, elucidated the conundrum just last month, talking about the difficulty in actually having too much depth:

“I’m in a really tough spot,” Kerr said. “I don’t know who I should deactivate. Everybody deserves to be active.”

Tonight, this is an ideal problem to have, since Whiteside is going to offer up a challenge to whoever lines up across from him.

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