New Orleans Pelicans Try to Save Christmas

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Published: December 25, 2015

The New Orleans Pelicans (9-19) are spending Christmas morning in Miami playing the Miami Heat (16-11). This is the first night in a back-to-back for the Pelicans, who play the Rockets tomorrow back in New Orleans. The game tips just after 11 am CT (UTC -6) and is on ESPN and the Pelicans Radio Network, 99.5 FM locally.

The Pelicans will start the customary lineup of Davis, Gordon, Evans, Gee, and Asik. Ajinca is now Questionable while Pondexter remains out. Also, Ish Smith was traded to the Philadelphia 76’ers for a pair of second round picks. Philadelphia trusts the process, but they trust Ish more.

The Heat have more players who are openly nursing injury. Dragic is Probable, Johnson is Questionable, and McRoberts is Out. Birdman is also battling an illness. The projected starters are Bosh, Wade, Deng, Whiteside, and Dragic.

The Heat are a solid team. Their pace is very slow. While their defense is good, but a quick scan of the statistics overstates this. Their offense is below average. Bosh and Wade lead the way in scoring, powered by Dragic, but they have other decent scorers, too. Part of this is that they do not shoot as threes at a high rate, generally. They do get to the line more often than most and do not offer opponents the same courtesy. Both teams rebound more on the defensive end.

The tension between the teams’ paces will be interesting here. Which team will go away from its game first, or will both teams stick to their offensive philosophy. The Heat shooting fewer threes and getting their efficiency from the line is interesting, because Whiteside, Bosh, and Wade are the players that lead the team in free throw attempts per game. If the Pelicans can keep those guys off the line and crack the Heat’s formidable three point defense, both in terms of attempt rate and make rate, they can take out this strong opponent on the road. Sadly, this relies heavily on a cool head to keep the offense where they want, good defense, and making smart choices with the three. Holiday’s minutes against Wade, who’s playing about 30m per game, and Bosh’s savvy against against Davis could be the keys here, perhaps also with Gordon’s threes and Ryno’s efficiency, which is not good on the road.

Mason will have the game from here.

Enjoy your Christmas, holiday, Holiday, and whatever else, everyone.

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