If the Pelicans had real playoff aspirations they have gone down in the same heap Anthony Davis did against the Chicago Bulls. At the time New Orleans was up by a point against one of the elite in the Eastern Conference and looking at a favorable schedule heading into the All-Star Break. Since that fall the wheels have come completely off of the Pelicans. Last night a horrendous second half derailed an expected win against the suddenly feisty Orlando Magic. Now two full games behind the surging Oklahoma City Thunder every single loss stings a little more.
Of course these Miami Heat are dealing with heartache far beyond mere wins and losses. Chris Bosh, the franchise cornerstone, spent Friday in the hospital. Preliminary reports from the Miami Herald say Bosh could miss the remainder of the season with blood clots in his lungs. While the Heat are seven games under .500 that is good enough for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers begin to round into form beneath them in the standings.
The Pelicans are likely to welcome former Heat player Norris Cole into the locker room tonight. For Miami, they snatched the biggest fish in the trading deadline pool with Goran Dragic. Dragic was unavailable for the Heat victory over the Knicks last night but should dress and most likely start at point guard tonight.
Keys to Victory
Defend the Paint: Last night that did not happen as the Magic piled on 64 points in the paint. Dragic makes a living driving to the basket and manipulating the pick and roll. Once again without the defensive services of Jrue Holiday New Orleans is going to need an answer. The initial rotation (a big to stop the layup attempt) was relatively consistent last night. The second step, the help defender on the weakside to take away the dump off, was routinely absent. Not late. Absent.
Make Baskets: 42% from the field and 26.3% behind the arc last night. Just not going to get it done in the NBA. Anthony Davis probably had his worst game of the season shooting 33% with four turnovers. This team really struggles when Davis is unable to create space with the threat of the mid range jump shot.
Wins the Boards: The Pelicans are sixth best team in the NBA on the glass, collecting 51.6% of all available rebounds. The Heat are 27th at just 48.4% ranking in the bottom ten on both ends. Hassan Whiteside has been a revelation, collecting 26.9% of all rebounds by himself when he's on the floor. Keeping him off the glass is going to be a team effort between Omer Asik, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Alexis Ajinca.
What: Pelicans at Heat
Where: The American Airlines Arena
When: February 21st, 6:30 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass