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Heat's Justise Winslow 'not satisfied' but still retains Erik Spoelstra's confidence

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

This is not the lineup of choice, but rather one of necessity.

And yet, even with Hassan Whiteside out indefinitely with another bone bruise on his left knee, and with Dion Waiters uneven with his play, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra appreciates what he can expect from Justise Winslow.

"What I've been reminding him," Spoelstra said before Sunday's loss to the Golden State Warriors, "is, 'Make your presence felt, right from the tip. In every stint you have in the game, come out with no regrets, just in terms of your effort, your energy, imposing your competitive will on the game.'

"And he has a way of doing that in a lot of different ways that don't necessarily have to be about scoring."

With Whiteside sidelined, with the initial forecast of being out one to two weeks, if not longer, it has left the Heat with a lineup that is limited in its scoring potential.

In Sunday's 123-95 loss, point guard Goran Dragic, with 20 points, and small forward Josh Richardson, with 12, were the Heat's only starters in double figures, the lineup particularly limited by Waiters' 1-of-10 shooting on his four-point night.

 

Then there is Winslow, who closed with four points on 2-of-5 shooting, again playing as the starting power forward. The showing hardly was the exception, having now scored eight or fewer points in 11 of the past 12 games, with no more than two baskets in five of his past six appearances.

"I'm just trying to go out there and play with a lot of energy, especially in that starting group," he said. "With some of the starts we've had recently, just trying to go out there and make an impact, rebounding, defending, getting to the hole."

It was with Winslow sidelined at midseason last season that the Heat went from their 11-30 start to a 41-41 finish.

This season, the expectation was that James Johnson, with his four-year, $60 million free-agent contract, would emerge as the starting power forward, a role he held at the close of last season and then in five of the first six games this season. There also was the possibility of Kelly Olynyk, signed away from the Boston Celtics on a four-year, $50 million free-agent deal, would settle in as the Heat's starting power forward, an assignment he held on the season-opening loss to the Orlando Magic.

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