More often than not, it's impossible to stop someone who is a dominating force, either on the perimeter or down low. While they weren't able to completely contain Hassan Whiteside, the Orlando Magic did a better job than they previously had this season.
After giving up 26 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks to the soon-to-be free agent big man, the Magic held Whiteside to just 13 points and 16 rebounds -- seven of which came on the offensive glass. Moreover, Whiteside had less of an impact on the defensive end, with the Magic finding a way to drive in and get the ball out to shooters or cutters leading to easy buckets.
Overall the team was able to neutralize a force that had given them problems earlier in the season, helping aid them to their first win against the Heat since a win in Miami in late 2014.
Magic coach Scott Skiles thought his team did "alright" against the big man who terrorized them with lobs in their previous matchup. "I thought, actually, other than one play at the end of the game, and one a little bit earlier of our game plan to drive it in at him and make a play and not try to be stubborn and shoot over him. We had several nice plays tonight where we did that. That's just something you have to do; you have to try to neutralize him on the defensive end."
Nikola Vucevic, who did much of the damage for the Magic with 29 points on the night, drew the tough matchup with Whiteside. Vucevic, who missed the last matchup between the two sides with a groin injury, had success in their first meeting as well, posting 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists.
"We tried to crowd him," said Vucevic. "Once he gets it in the paint it's hard to stop him. He's good at finishing and, you know, dunking the ball and then he's such a big guy, so it's hard once he catches it there. So, we tried to beat him early and push him out of the paint as much as we can [and] make it tough on him once he catches it.
"He still had a lot of rebounds and some points; you're not going to stop him, but you have to limit him as much as you can, and I thought we did a good job."
There's no way to completely stop Whiteside, or a big ma of his calibre, but the Magic did a much better job than they had previously this season. With one more meeting with the Heat, the Magic will need to do much of the same if they hope to slow the Heats premier big man down.
Oladipo goes down
With just three games remaining, the Magic will likely go into both games short handed.
After losing Aaron Gordon, likely for the season, to a concussion on Wednesday night, the Magic likely lost starting guard Victor Oladipo after he took an elbow from Whiteside trying to take a charge. The play resulted in a cut above Oladipo's eye that required six stitches, and gave him his second concussion of the season.
The first happened on November 11th against the Lakers when Oladipo ran into teammate Dewayne Dedmon's shoulder, resulting in him missing two games.
Now, with his second concussion in six months, Oladipo's season is likely over. The injury also raises the concern that Oladipo could be more susceptible to future head injuries, which could be an issue with his sometimes reckless abandon.
In his absence, the Magic will need the likes of Mario Hezonja, C.J. Watson and Devyn Marble to step up. Hezonja, who is wrapping up an up-and-down rookie campaign, is the likely candidate to take over in the starting lineup as the Magic look for a boost scoring the ball. It would also give Hezonja the chance to garner more playing time, something that has been inconsistent for him throughout the season.
While it'll be tough to fully replicate Oladipo's output, especially on the defensive end, getting Hezonja more minutes will only help. It'll also be a good opportunity for Marble to continue to show off his game, something that could ultimately be the difference in him remaining in Orlando, or going elsewhere.