Miami faces New Orleans on Friday in both team’s first game after the All-Star break. New Orleans won three straight games before the break after losing three straight. Miami has lost two straight on the road and seven of their last eight games. In the first meeting, the Pels won 109-94 on the road on Dec. 23.
If the Heat continue to struggle, they will slip out of the playoffs. They are just 1 1/2 games ahead of Detroit for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The good news is that after they play the Pelicans, they will have five straight at home. They lost to Philadelphia, 104-102 right before the break and had a strong performance from James Johnson, who scored
22 points. All-Star guard Goran Dragic leads Miami with 17.4 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc.
New Orleans went 1-5 in their first six games after losing DeMarcus Cousins due to a torn Achilles. But the Pelicans have now won three straight games, averaging 131.7 points. All-Star big man Anthony Davis has been unstoppable, averaging 41.3 points and 14 rebounds during the winning streak. In their first win over Miami, Davis had just 17 points, but the Pels made an incredible 15-of-25 from beyond the arc. Davis is also getting help from point guard Jrue Holiday, who has scored 21 or more points in four of his last five games. The Pels also added Nikola Mirotic, who is shooting just 30.2 percent from three-point range in six games with New Orleans, after making 42.9 percent with Chicago in 25 games.
Expect a much higher scoring effort in this game from both teams. I think the Pels found a formula without Cousins and that’s pushing the ball. New Orleans is on such a scoring kick. They are 21-8 Over their last 29 home games. Miami is 5-1 Over their last 6 overall and 5-1 Over their last 6 at home in this series.