Coming off a season-saving win last night in Toronto, guard Demar Derozan slipped up in the postgame presser, taking a little shot at Hassan Whiteside when asked about Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas.
Question: “How important has Jonas’ play been on Hassan Whiteside during the series so far?”
Derozan: “It’s been big. You’ve obviously seen who’s the dominate big out there when it comes to rebounding, scoring and he’s been doing a lot for us. We need him to continue to keep doing that. It’s great.”
While the comments were far from malicious, they were not wise. Especially considering the series heads to Miami, where the Heat has been the second most dominant team at home during the postseason, behind only the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
As for whether Derozan’s words hold any credence, he’s not wrong — Valanciunas has outplayed Whiteside and is probably the main reason the Raptors aren’t in an 0-2 series hole.
He’s averaging 20 points and 13 boards on 68-percent shooting while also positively impacting the game defensively and as a screener — he had an unbelievable 12 screen assists last night, per NBA.com, more than the entire Heat squad combined (11). Whiteside has been his usual rim-deterring self but is vulnerable in pick-and-roll situations and has often been out-maneuvered by Valanciunas on the glass — BOX OUT.
Still, it’s foolish to elbow the sleeping giant, especially when that giant happens to be a seven-foot freak with arms longer than Mister Fantastic, capable of swallowing your shot while engendering rim-deterring fear within your soul.
— Josh Baumgard (@joshbaumgard) May 6, 2016