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HHH GameTime Preview: Heat host Pelicans

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The Heat continue to push towards a playoff berth with a showdown against the Twin Towers of The Big Easy.

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 7:30 PM EST, the Miami Heat will tip off against the New Orleans Pelicans, at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. This will be the second of two contests this season between the two.

The Pelicans won the first of the one-time (but no longer, it’s complicated) expansion cousins, 91-87 on December 23rd in New Orleans. Anthony Davis had 28 points, 22 rebounds, and four blocked shots in the win, backed by 22 with six helpers from Jrue Holiday. Goran Dragic led the Heat in a losing effort with 23 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Hassan Whiteside scored 10 with 18 boards, and James Johnson had 11 with 10 rebounds off the bench.

We didn't execute and in the end we fell short. No excuses. We need to do more. - Dragic

The Heat are opening up a five-game homestand. After this one, they’ll remain in Miami to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, and the Toronto Raptors next Thursday night.

In Miami’s last game, the sum of a one-game road trip, they dropped a 102-98 decision to the Indiana Pacers. Paul George led with 28 points and 10 rebounds, Myles Turner had 15 with eight, and Thaddeus Young scored 13 with five. Jeff Teague scored a dozen with five boards and four helpers. Hassan Whiteside led the Heat with 26 points and 21 rebounds, and Dion Waiters scored 20 with eight rebounds and six assists. Wayne Ellington came off the bench for 19 points on seven-for-13 shooting.

Some games are going to come down to the last three minutes. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

After tonight’s one show on the road for the Pels, they’ll head home for a three-game stand against the Houston Rockets on Friday, the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, and the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.

Check out what Erik Spoelstra, Whiteside, Dragic and Waiters had to say after Tuesday’s practice at the AA Arena with regards to the matchup against New Orleans.

Last night, it finally looked like the pairing of Davis and DeMarcus Cousins was truly clicking for the Pelicans in their 100-77 rout of the Trail Blazers, the first time the team has won consecutive games since acquiring the talented but mercurial Cousins.

"Everyone was playing well, and we're going to need this if we want to continue to make this push." - Anthony Davis

GameTime: 7:30 PM EST, AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Florida

All-Time Heat-to-Head: Miami owns a 15-17 all-time record against this club since the “inception” of the team. The Pelicans were the New Orleans Hornets as recently as 2013. The NBA defines their birth as the 2002-03 season, although it was at the time just a franchise relocation. The Charlotte Bobcats have since “inherited” the formative years of this team as their own history. Like I said, it’s complicated.

Odds: numberFire.com has Miami’s winning probability set at 84.4%, with a projected Five Stars of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, Jrue Holiday, and Goran Dragic. We’ll see about that.


Standings

Miami Heat: 32-35, .478, on pace for a 39-43 record. Third in the Southeast Division, 9.5 games behind the division leading Washington Wizards. Tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls, 12 games behind the EC leading Cleveland Cavaliers. Tied for 16th in the NBA, with Chicago and the Denver Nuggets. Playoff Odds: 50.8%. Last Five: W-W-W-W-L.

New Orleans Pelicans: 27-40, .403. Fifth (last place) in the Southwest Division, 25.5 games behind the division leading San Antonio Spurs. Currently 12th in the Western Conference, 5 games behind the Denver Nuggets who hold the eighth and final playoff spot.

Probable Starters

Miami Heat
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Rodney McGruder
SF - Dion Waiters
PF - Luke Babbitt
C - Hassan Whiteside

New Orleans Pelicans
PG - Jrue Holiday
SG - Hollis Thompson
SF - Solomon Hill
PF - DeMarcus Cousins
C - Anthony Davis (GTD)