Kurt Helin

MRI on Hassan Whiteside’s knee shows sprained MCL, he’s likely out at least couple weeks

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Officially, Hassan Whiteside is listed as “day-to-day” with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

In practice, he likely can return in a couple of weeks. If the Heat are still playing then — not having Whiteside in the paint protecting the rim makes that task far more difficult.

The Miami Heat tweeted this out Sunday:

The Heat did not list a grade of the sprain. However, Stephen Curry is still battling back from a Grade 1 sprain — the mildest of the sprains — and will have missed a couple of weeks. If Whiteside has a Grade II or III sprain he would be out longer.

This diagnosis is good for Whiteside in that the free agent to be did not suffer a torn ligament requiring surgery. The young man is going to get paid max or near max dollars and a more severe injury would have made some teams hesitant.

However, this is not good for the Heat — Whiteside is essential for them in a series where they now trail the Raptors 2-1. Toronto’s offense is all about the penetration and shot creation of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Miami could take away some of their shots at the rim with Whiteside protecting it. Miami doesn’t have another good rim protecting option and Erik Spoelstra may be forced to go super small now.

Toronto big man Jonas Valanciunas has a sprained ankle, but may be back sooner than Whiteside in this series.

Al-Farouq Aminu may have had Saturday’s best dunk (VIDEO)

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A lot of things went right for Portland in its Game 3 win at home against Golden State. Near the top of that list was Al-Farouq Aminu going off for 23 points.

He also had arguably the dunk of the day Saturday, when he attacked and the late-rotating Andrew Bogut was not about to stop him.

Dwyane Wade took extra warm-up shots during Canadian national anthem

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That’s disrespectful.

Imagine the outcry if a player took a few extra warm-up shots during the American national anthem.

Miami’s Dwyane Wade got in a few shots once the Canadian national anthem had started before Game 3 between the Heat and the Raptors. That is a violation of the NBA rules. If he had taken one shot, realized he was late and walked over to the line of players standing for the anthem it would be one thing, but he just keeps on shooting. Here is the video, or follow this link to a better version (hat tip Reddit).

The start of the anthem seems to come fast before the teams are ready, the Raptors were just finishing shooting too, but if you watch the video they quickly stop and get in the line. Wade kept firing away. I don’t think he was being intentionally disrespectful, but it comes off that way.

My guess is the league’s reaction to this will be to send a memo to teams telling them to remind players to be respectful of the anthem. My guess is the reaction would be very different if he did this during the American national anthem. Just ask Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Wade, you can do better.

Watch Damian Lillard go off for 40 to beat Golden State

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When Portland beats teams, it’s usually because of an offensive explosion. The Trail Blazers don’t win with defense, they just count on their offense being so good it covers everything else up.

For example, there is Damian Lillard going off for 40 points against the Warriors leading the Blazers to a 120-108 Game 3 win Saturday. Lillard did his Stephen Curry impression by hitting threes and looking unstoppable. Oh, and playing like an All-Star, not that he’s still bitter about being left off that team this season.

We will see Monday if Lillard can replicate it. And if Curry is back.

Will Toronto get Jonas Valanciunas the ball more in Game 3?

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Through two overtime games against the Miami Heat — a series tied 1-1 as it heads to Florida for Game 3 Saturday — there has been one consistent offensive player for the Toronto Raptors:

Jonas Valanciunas.

Yet he got only nine shots in Game 2, even though it was his play — particularly in the fourth quarter and overtime — that won Toronto the game. He was 3-of-4 on post ups and can use his big body to overpower Hassan Whiteside (not the greatest post defender ever) or anyone else the Heat throw at him. But again, just four attempts at something that was working.

During the regular season, the Raptors’ fifth-best offense in the NBA was fueled by the play of guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, arguably the second best guard duo in the NBA during the season. But in this series they are combined 28-of-81, 34.6 percent. DeRozan hasn’t taken a three (which makes him easier to defend, teams can lay off him) and Lowry is 2-of-14 from deep.

The playoffs are about adjustments — not just the ones the coaches draw up on whiteboards, but also the ones players make. Will they sacrifice parts of their game, particularly shots, to do what is best for the team? That question hits the Raptors as they head into Game 3. To win this series eventually Lowry and DeRozan need to shoot better, but also they need to give up some shots to Valanciunas. Here is what Raptors said about this idea, via ESPN.

“Do I want the ball more?” Valanciunas replied to reporters in diplomatic fashion. “No, I’m good.”

“They’re our guys,” Casey said of Lowry and DeRozan. “They’re our go-to players. They’re our two All-Stars. They’ve carried us the entire year. Both of them are going through a tough shooting slump right now, and it’s hard to say just stop shooting and start looking for everybody else.

“They’re accountable for their shots; they take accountability for some of the tough shots that they take. But again, we have to live with some of their tough shots as the game goes on because we need them to be there, to have the threat of scoring as much as anything else. And again, it’s not like we haven’t seen those things change from game to game for certain players, and I’m confident that it will for those two.”

If those two cold Raptors shooters don’t warm up in Miami, this series could be over sooner rather than later. But getting there might involve working inside-out more, and giving the big man in the paint more touches. Adjust or go home.