The Miami Heat hit the road tonight in the Big Easy to face off against the New Orleans Pelicans!
This matchup features a contending playoff team in Miami and a New Orleans team that has begun to pack it up for the season. This move was evident when the Pelicans recently announced that Anthony Davis would be done for the year due to a shoulder injury (we wish him the best in his recovery). With Davis out, New Orleans is down a major contributor, so Miami needs to take advantage and win this game. They cannot afford to lose to this team. New Orleans has played well without a lot of their main cast recently. Jrue Holiday has finally had some luck with his health and has played well for them. The Pelicans will also be without Norris Cole, Ryan Anderson, Alexis Ajinca, and Quincy Pondexter, so a lot of pressure will fall on Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Tyreke Evans.
Miami is looking to stay on pace with the Hawks as they try to fight for third place in the East and also stay ahead of Boston and Charlotte. They are still eagerly awaiting the hopeful return of Chris Bosh, because they will be an even better team than the one that has played beautiful basketball recently. So let’s take a look at the 3 keys.
- Attack the offensive glass: Without Davis and Ajinca, the Pelican will have Omer Asik and Kendrick Perkins as the only primary big guys in the middle. With the quickness of the new small lineup, Miami should be able to get a good amount of offensive boards. Deng has done a great job in that area as has Justise Winslow.
- Don’t play down: Just because their star player and sixth man are out, does not mean the Pels are just going to give up. Miami needs to come out focused and looking to attack and put them away early. Don’t give them any room to think they can steal this game. So knock them out early.
- Attack the rim: Asik is the only real threat as a shot-blocker, but he is foul-prone. With that said, Dragic and Wade should be looking to attack at every opportunity while Whiteside should have a field day in the paint. This will cause New Orleans to commit to the paint, which in turn will open up Johnson and Richardson on the outside.
Again, this is a must-win for the Heat, even though it is against a team from the opposite conference. The Hornets play Brooklyn tonight and are heavily favored there, so no losses can be taken.