17/06/2018

Heat feasting on 'Pork and Beans,' with Whiteside, Adebayo cooking

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Heat feasting on 'Pork and Beans,' with Whiteside, Adebayo cooking

The Miami Heat have found a winning power ball combination, with Hassan Whiteside thriving alongside Bam Adebayo.

The Miami Heat have found a winning power ball combination, with Hassan Whiteside thriving alongside Bam Adebayo.

"Pork and Beans."

That's the starting point, although Hassan Whiteside is hoping that something better can be cooked up.

Now that he and Bam Adebayo have come together to form a power rotation unlike anything the Miami Heat have seen in years, Whiteside and the rookie center decided that it is only logical that a nickname follow.

"Bam said he wants to make a nickname, so I'm still thinking about it," Whiteside said, with the Heat in the midst of a three-day break before returning to the court Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks at AmericanAirlines Arena. "We're both from North Carolina, so we’re going to figure out something."

Adebayo already has, thus the inspiration from the North Carolina cassoulet recipe.

"We've got to come up with a nickname," Adebayo said, " 'Pork N Beans', something from North Carolina."

No matter the cookbook choice, Erik Spoelstra has whipped up something unique from his playbook in recent games, with a shorthanded roster leading him to the first sustained minutes together for the shot-blocking duo.

"Bam, his energy, his quickness, his toughness, it's infectious," Spoelstra said. "And when you have a game where guys don't necessarily feel like you got the juice, when you see somebody else, all of a sudden you find energy from that, from his energy."

The jolt seemingly has invigorated Whiteside, who has recorded 15 rebounds in each of the past two games, with six shot blocks in the victories that extended the Heat's winning streak to six.

"Both of us are kind of flying around and rebounding and blocking everything," said Whiteside, whose play had been uneven until this recent move to big men squared.

And this is not your traditional set of plodding big men clumsily dueling for post position. Whiteside said it's almost a blur playing alongside the 20-year-old No. 14 selection out of Kentucky.

"It's crazy," he said, "because I'm turning around and all I saw is a shadow. I see a shadow when we run off of rebounds and blocks. I know if somebody gets past me, it's like a layup and I'm looking and turning around like this guy is coming out of nowhere, and vice versa."

Adebayo said the pairing works because of the respect for positioning on offense and help on defense.

"Just both of us being in the right position at the right time," he said. "When Coach calls the play, it's like anybody else who is in the rotation."

So far that still has left ample opportunities for aggressive teammates such as Josh Richardson, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson to attack. Then, on the other end, Adebayo said he knows he can play with an aggressive bent with Whiteside alongside to clean up any mistakes.

"He's got my back if my man beats me baseline or my man beats me, period," Adebayo said.

While the alignment has been a Spoelstra creation, there has been plenty of support from the Heat's big-man lineage, assistant coach Juwan Howard offering frequent tutorials, Heat executive Alonzo Mourning providing encouragement.

"Having Coach Howard over there and having in my ear and telling me, I'm grateful for that. Coach 17 is one of the best," Adebayo said of Howard's nickname for his NBA tenure when he joined the Heat as a player. "Having him on the staff and working with him every day, we've developed a bond."

As have Whiteside and Mourning, who texted Whiteside before Wednesday's victory in Indiana about remaining aggressive.

"Alonzo texted me before the game," Whiteside said. "He said, 'Make sure you jump and try to block everything.' I didn't even respond because I already was locked in."

Because with "Pork and Beans," the hunger continues to simmer.

"It's definitely different," Whiteside said, "because I’ve never played with anybody like that, not on the court with them."

iwinderman@sunsentinel.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat or facebook.com/ira.winderman

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