On the surface the 8-3 Miami Heat should handle the 3-8 New Orleans Pelicans with ease. However the Pelicans just surprised the Los Angeles Clippers with an 132-127 upset win. Consider how many points the Pelicans dropped in their each of their eleven games this season:
- 132 against the Clippers
- 125 against the Brooklyn Nets
- 123 against the Houston Rockets (first game)
- 123 against the Golden State Warriors
- 122 against the Denver Nuggets
- 122 against the Toronto Raptors (first game)
- 116 against the Dallas Mavericks
- 116 against the Rockets (second game)
- 115 against the Charlotte Hornets
- 104 against the Raptors (second game)
- 104 against the Oklahoma City Thunder
The Pelicans are only one of four teams to score over 100 or more points in each of their games this season. The other three are the 9-3 Rockets, 8-3 Bucks and 6-5 Mavericks. As an aside the Heat outgunned two of those teams already. Point is, the Pelicans 3-8 record deceives people because of the team’s NBA-worst defense.
In a few games this season the Heat let teams get back into contention after after jumping out to early double-digit leads. That would be a very dangerous practice against a high-octane team like the Pelicans, which netted less than 115 points only twice this season. Especially notable is 122 points they put up in their win against the Nuggets, who held the Heat to 89 points in Miami’s 20-point loss.
Stopping the Pels isn’t that simple either, because they won both games where they had only 75 and 77 field goal attempts (FGA). Surpringly the Pelicans lost 8 of 9 games where they attempted 94 field goals or more. In those aforementioned victories, the Nuggets and Hornets sent New Orleans to free throw line 32 and 30 times, respectively, to compensate for the fewer FGAs by New Orleans.
This Saturday’s game against the Pelicans will be a 48-minute effort on defense and offense for the Heat. Any let-up, however brief, could prove to be costly one as the Pels don’t quit on the offensive side of their game.
Official injury report for today, as of 5:30 pm, lists Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler as questionable. Later Anthony Chiang clarified their availability for tonight’s game.
Erik Spoelstra says Goran Dragic (sick) will not play tonight. Jimmy Butler is at the AAA and is preparing to play.— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) November 16, 2019
“Erik Spoelstra says Goran Dragic (sick) will not play tonight. Jimmy Butler is at the AAA and is preparing to play.”
Later the Heat still had Butler’s status as questionable.
#NOPvsMIA INJURY UPDATE: Jimmy Butler (illness) is questionable to play in tonight's game vs the Pelicans.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 16, 2019
Goran Dragic (illness), Justise Winslow (concussion), KZ Okpala (Achilles) and Derrick Jones, Jr. (hip) have all been ruled out.
“#NOPvsMIA INJURY UPDATE: Jimmy Butler (illness) is questionable to play in tonight’s game vs the Pelicans.
Goran Dragic (illness), Justise Winslow (concussion), KZ Okpala (Achilles) and Derrick Jones, Jr. (hip) have all been ruled out.”
Depending on Butler’s availability, the depth chart for Miami might turn out as follows:
PG: Kendrick Nunn, Daryl Macon
SG: Jimmy Butler (??), Tyler Herro
SF: Duncan Robinson
PF: Bam Adebayo, James Johnson
C: Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk, Chris Silva, Udonis Haslem