The Miami Heat will travel to the Smoothie King Center on Thursday night to take on the New Orleans Pelicans in an interconference matchup. This will be the final matchup between these teams as they played back on Christmas in Miami where the Heat picked up a 111-98 victory. The Heat are seventh in the East with a 17-18 record and are coming off a 94-80 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference with a 15-19 record. This will be the second game of a back-of-back as they faced off against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
These teams have a bit of separation between them on the statistical side of the game but have some of the more talented rosters. Let’s take a deeper dive into the matchup to decide where we should be placing our wagers. PUBLISHED BEFORE FIRST GAME
Center of AttentionThe Miami Heat have been relying on center Bam Adebayo to carry the offensive load this season. He is averaging 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, a block, and 0.9 steals in 33.9 minutes on the court. He is shooting the ball at a great clip with his limited range as he is 56.3 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from three, and 84.7 percent from the free-throw line. In his last game against the Hawks, Adebayo played 33 minutes and finished with 11 points, two rebounds, and three assists. If he can figure out a way to be more effective in his time play, the Heat will be in a great spot here.
The Miami Heat have been a solid defense to begin the year as they are giving up 108.8 points per game, which is fifth in the league. In their last game against the Atlanta Hawks, they allowed 94 points on 34-of-71 (47.9 percent) from the floor, 13-of-36 (36.1 percent) from beyond the arc, and 15 free-throw attempts. If they can figure out how to limit the number of open shots from the field being taken against them, they should be great in this game.
Sophomore Star > Sophomore SlumpPower forward Zion Williamson has been one of the best young players in the league as well. He is averaging 25.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 33 minutes on the court. He needs to keep improving his shooting numbers as he is 61.4 percent from the floor, 31.6 percent from the three-point line, and 70.7 percent from the charity stripe. In his last game against the Jazz, Williamson played 34 minutes and finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, a steal, and six turnovers. If he can figure out how to clean up his sloppy play, it will do wonders for New Orleans.
The New Orleans Pelicans have been one of the lesser defenses in the league at this point as they are giving up 115.9 points per game, which is 26th in the NBA. In their last game against the Utah Jazz, they allowed 124 points on 46-of-101 (45.5 percent) from the floor, 17-of-43 (39.5 percent) from beyond the arc, and shot 18 free-throws.