After three weeks of inactivity, Hassan Whiteside finally made his return to the court.
On Thursday night, the Miami Heat center had his first taste of in-game action during the team’s annual intrasquad scrimmage held at American Airlines Arena. Earlier on Thursday, Whiteside practiced for the first time since late September. The 26-year-old center had been sidelined since pre-camp workouts due to a strained calf.
Whiteside commented on his return following the scrimmage:
“It was a good feeling just being out there with the guys, just really getting to play with the guys and really get through the schemes. I’m really excited I got to practice.”
Perhaps just as important was the fact that the Heat’s projected starting five finally took the court together for the first time. The starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Whiteside started the scrimmage and gave a glimpse of what to expect during the 2015-16 season.
Wade stressed just how important Whiteside is to the team’s success:
“His ability last year when we weren’t a good team was impeccable. And to have him when you have a pretty good team, it can be that much more special.”
Though the 7-foot center stated that he’s not 100 percent, he says that he is no longer at risk of worsening the injury:
“I’m still not 100 percent, because there’s still some tightening and it’s still tight. But I’m cleared to play. I can’t injure myself, so that’s what’s most important.”
Bosh, who himself had a long road to returning after dealing with a serious blood clots ailment last February, understands that it will take awhile before Whiteside gets up to speed with the rest of the team:
“It’s good to start crawling before you walk, just getting him back out there running the sets. You always have to kind of start simple. We understand that the game is moving a lot faster and he’s going to have to play catch-up right now. But he knew the sets. I know he’s been working early with the coaches.”
The Heat will have four preseason games remaining, with a road exhibition versus the Houston Rockets set for Saturday.
With the starting lineup finally at full strength, they’ll have some time to develop chemistry before opening the regular season versus the Charlotte Hornets on October 28th.