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HHH GameTime Preview: Heat visit New Orleans

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Miami starts out a quick two game road trip with a game they should win, followed by a game they should lose.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 8PM, the Miami Heat will tipoff against the New Orleans Pelicans in Smoothie King Center in the great state of Louisiana. This is the second and final time they'll play this year, including the playoffs, as the Pelicans are all but eliminated. The Heat won the first on Christmas day in overtime, 94-88, but more on that below.

The Heat just came off a three-game homestand at 2-1, defeating the Denver Nuggets 124-119 last Monday, losing to the Charlotte Hornets 109-106 on Thursday, then defeating the defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, but more on that below as well. After this game, they'll play the San Antonio Spurs tomorrow.

The Pelicans are closing out a three-game homestand of their own. They lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 117-112 on Friday, then surprised the Los Angeles Clippers, 109-105 on Sunday, but more on that, you guessed it, below. They'll head to the Field House in Indianapolis to take on the Pacers on Thursday after this.

On Christmas day, the 16-11 Heat hosted the 9-19 Pelicans at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, FL, earning a 94-88 victory in overtime. Chris Bosh led a nine-man rotation with 30 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade had 19 with six and four assists, and Hassan Whiteside pitched in with 17 rebounds and four blocks. Anthony Davis had 29 with 15 boards to lead the Pelicans, and Eric Gordon scored 16. Ryan Anderson came off the bench for 18 points and eight rebounds.

When the pressure is highest, that's when they show the most courage. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

The Bird Writes is your SB Nation hub for the Pelicans.

Miami's last time out would see them defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AAA in Miami, FL by a 122-101 final score. Dwyane Wade scored 24 points, including his 20,000th, Goran Dragic had 18 points and 11 helpers, Josh Richardson scored 19 off the bench, and Joe Johnson scored 18 points in the win. LeBron James led the Cavs with 26 points, backed by Richard Jefferson, with 20 off the bench.

It was great to see. You don't want to be so jaded in this business that you don't take time to recognize the special moments. Dwyane's the face of the franchise. He's done what he's been able to do at a high level, for a long time, consistently. - Spoelstra

You can find more on the Cavs at Fear The Sword.

The Pelicans took down the Los Angeles Clippers, 109-105 on Sunday in their last game. Jrue Holiday led the depleted New Orleans team with 22 points and eight assists. Omer Asik had 15 with 14 rebounds, and Dante Cunningham had 19 with six boards. Chris Paul had 24 with 13 helpers to lead Los Angeles, and JJ Redick also scored 24 in the loss.

I guess from an on-court standpoint, I'm going to have to take a lot of the load, directing guys. - Holiday

GameTime: 8PM, FSNOLA, FS-SUN

All-Time Heat-to-Head: The Pelicans hold a slim 16-14 lead in direct competition since the Bobcats came into existence. The history before that was absorbed by the current Hornets team in Charlotte. It's complicated.

Standings

Miami Heat: 40-29, .580, on pace for 48-34. First in the Southeast Division, third in the Eastern Conference, seventh in the NBA, percentage points ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies. Last Five: W-L-W-L-W.

New Orleans Pelicans: 26-43, .377, on pace for 31-51. Fifth in the Southwest Division, 12th in the Conference, 25th in the NBA. Last Five: L-L-W-L-W.

Injury Report

Miami Heat: Chris Bosh (blood clots) is still listed as possibly being back as soon as Friday, Tyler Johnson (shoulder) could make a return a week after that.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans got bit by the injury bug badly. Anthony Davis (shoulder), Quincy Poindexter (knee), Eric Gordon (finger), Bryce Dejean-Jones (wrist), and Tyreke Evans (knee) are all out for the rest of the season. Norris Cole (back) is a game-time decision, and Ryan Anderson (groin) wont play before Thursday.

Probable Starters

Miami Heat
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Dwyane Wade, Josh Richardson
C - Amar'e Stoudemire, Hassan Whiteside
SF - Joe Johnson, Justise Winslow
PF - Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts

New Orleans Pelicans
PG - Jrue Holiday, Tim Frazier
SG - Toney Douglas, Alonzo Gee
C - Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca
SF - Dante Cunningham
PF - Luke Babbitt

Check with us later for breaking news, and tune in for the GameThread, just before 8PM.