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Pelicans to face Heat and their impressive Christmas Day win streak

Miami has compiled an impressive 9-2 Christmas Day record. Can New Orleans also overcome the lights, the early start time, and most of all, their typical woeful road performances?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas Day has been good to the Miami Heat and Dwayne Wade in particular. They have won six straight games on December 25th, and Wade has lost just once in ten career day games on the special day. One year ago, they knocked off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers101-91, despite entering the game with a 13-16 record.

Meanwhile, New Orleans will be appearing on Christmas day for just the second time in franchise history. Back in 2008, the then-Hornets and Chris Paul were stomped by the Orlando Magic88-68. New Orleans had failed to score 18 points in every quarter but one.

The Heat are 12-6 at home this season, but they have lost 2 of their last 3, both to the Raptors and most recently the Pistons. Last year, the Pelicans won both meetings, but prior to their win at American Airlines, the Heat had won five straight matchups.

Miami can thank their mini-resurgence on their health this season. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside are yet to miss a game while Wade and Goran Dragic have missed just one contest each. Although Dragic is listed as probable, it is unlikely he'll miss the game as he was at practice yesterday.

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Play with pace. As one might expect with an older roster and a more traditional center and power forward, the Heat have no desire to get into a track meet with the Pelicans. They prefer to have their 5th rated defense get set and have Whiteside, the NBA's leading shot blocker, patrolling the paint. Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and the rest of the ball handlers have to be careful and avoid playing too much in isolation whereby the defense is ready to double.
  2. Spread the floor with the three ball. The Heat don't allow many three-point shots nor do teams shoot well. However, the Pelicans need to get Bosh and Whiteside out of their comfort zone. The best way to accomplish this will be through a lot of small-ball lineups. It'll be interesting to see how many minutes the Pelicans finishing five of Evans-Holiday-Gordon-Anderson-Davis gets, or at the very least, the Davis-Anderson combination.
  3. Bait the Heat to shoot from the perimeter. Outside of Chris Bosh and Gerald Green, the Heat would rather not attempt three-point shots. This is especially true of Dragic and Wade as they both are well below 30%. Play. Off. Of. The. Non-shooters.

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat

Where: American Airlines

When: December 25th, 11:00 AM

How: ESPN, WRNO 99.5 FM (Radio)

Enemy Data: Hot Hot Hoops