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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans look to take care of business against wounded Miami Heat squad

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (11-11), look to start a new win streak after defeating the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. New Orleans found new life with Tim Frazier being inserted into the starting lineup against Washington, now fans will get to see if they can maintain the momentum against their next foe.

On Friday night, New Orleans will take on the Miami Heat (7-13), losers of their last two games and eight of their past ten. While Miami’s record isn’t impressive, New Orleans can not afford to take them lightly after a recent string of bad losses. Miami’s has no legitimate superstar, but the Heat’s rotation normally runs 10 men deep, with versatile players capable of hurting opponents in multiple ways.

Keys to the Game

  • Defense Defense Defense!

Through the first quarter of the season, the Pelicans, as a team, have been awful on defense. Currently, New Orleans ranks 26th in the NBA in defensive rating. When the squad clamps down, not surprisingly they emerge victories, winning seven of their 10 games when they’ve posted a defensive rating of 112.0 or better.

NBA: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In their last contest, the Pels were able to turn up the defensive heat on Washington’s high powered backcourt, delivering one of their best team defensive performances of the season (98.1 DEFRTG). Quite frankly that is the kind of intensity, effort and attention to detail this team will need if they plan on making any noise in the association this season.

  • Protect The Rock

Ball security has been an issue all season for New Orleans, ranking 19th in turnover percentage. When the Pelicans post a TOV% of 14.0% or less, they usually win (8-2). The ball handling void left by Elfrid Payton has forced players like Ian Clark, Frank Jackson and even Solomon Hill to facilitate, leading to increased turnovers. If New Orleans turns the ball over against a team like the Heat they can forget about winning. The Heat thrive off turnovers and disrupting opponents offensive rhythm. Ball security will be key.

  • Protect Both Stripes

Miami is top 10 in the NBA in both 3pt percentage and free throw attempts. If Anthony Davis and company expect to walk out with the victory, they will need to limit open threes and defend Miami without fouling. The Pelicans should remain especially aware of Miami guard Josh Richardson, who is top 20 in the NBA in 3-point attempts and converting 42% of his deep shots.

Staying out of foul trouble will also be key for the Pels. New Orleans probably has the more talented squad, but Miami has the deeper roster and any minutes the Pels lose from their front line players could cost them dearly due to their overall lack of quality depth. That said, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson have already been ruled out.

It remains to be seen if the Pelicans can shed the yo-yo act and string together some quality wins, especially on the road. They’ll get their opportunity with some winnable games over their next couple of outings. We’ll see if they can continue the positive mojo.

Geaux Pels!

Where To Watch

What: New Orleans Pelicans @ Miami Heat

Where: One of the 3,000 American Airlines Arenas

When: Friday, November 30, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO