Hassan Whiteside has been a revelation for the Heat since breaking out around the start of the new year. But it appears Miami will be without their starting center for Wednesday night's matchup with Boston, a game that could go a long way in affecting playoff seeding.

Whiteside sustained a laceration between his ring and middle fingers on his right hand in the Heat's loss to Milwaukee Wednesday night and received ten stitches. He apparently wasn't feeling great after the game:

Miami (32-38) is currently the No. 7 team in the East and holds a one-game lead over Boston (31-39) before the two tangle in TD Garden Wednesday night.

If Whiteside is indeed out, his absence could significantly impact the game. With Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts both sidelined, the Heat are forced to turn to Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley as their post players and have even used Henry Walker as a small-ball power forward in some lineups. Miami's lack of bulk down low gives Brad Stevens options - he can try to dominate Miami with size, using heavy doses of Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass, or go small with lineups that feature Jonas Jerebko or Luigi Datome at the forwards.

Since Jan. 1, Whiteside is averaging 13.3 points (on 62 percent shooting), 11.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. The Heat have posted the eighth-best defense in the league since that point, anchored by Whiteside down low.

And Miami's offense has crumbled without Whiteside off the court, putting up just 96.8 points per 100 possessions when he sits as opposed to 103.7 when he's in action.

The Heat have already been whittled perilously thin by injuries, and a deep Celtics squad should be able to take advantage of Miami's limited roster. Winning tonight would be a major boon for Boston's hopes of not only making the playoffs, but maybe even securing the No. 7 seed.

Photo credit: Morry Gash, Associated Press

Dan Hoppen 3/25/2015 09:07:00 AM Edit
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