National Basketball Association
Miami at New Orleans
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 23, 2018
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans went into the All-Star break on very different paths, but they emerge holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in their respective conferences. The Heat will try to turn things around against the streaking Pelicans when the teams meet Friday night in New Orleans.
Miami dropped seven of their final eight games prior to the intermission, including five straight on the road, and will enter Friday with a 1 1/2-game lead over Detroit for the last postseason position in the East. "I think this group knows," All-Star guard Goran Dragic told reporters Wednesday when discussing what figures to be another tight playoff race. "We were in this kind of position last year. It's not fun when you win the last game and then you're waiting on somebody else to see if you're going to make the playoffs or not." New Orleans went 1-5 in its first five games after losing standout big man DeMarcus Cousins for the season, but it rebounded with three consecutive victories before the break while averaging 131.7 points. All-Star Anthony Davis posted 41.3 points and 14 rebounds during the winning streak.TV:
8 p.m. ET, FS Sun (Miami), FS New OrleansABOUT THE HEAT (30-28):
After it leaves New Orleans, Miami plays five straight at home - four against teams that entered the break below .500 - as part of a closing stretch in which 15 of the team's final 23 games are at AmericanAirlines Arena. "We need to take care of business here at home, especially because we have a lot of home games in March," Dragic added. "I think we have a good advantage on those teams." James Johnson led the Heat with 22 points in a 104-102 loss at Philadelphia before the break and he is averaging 19 points on 15-of-21 shooting over his last two games.ABOUT THE PELICANS (31-26):
Davis appears prepared to carry New Orleans down the stretch as he returns to being the true go-to guy he was before Cousins came aboard last season. "When he goes down, it's, all right, it goes back to AD before DeMarcus, a lot of minutes, weight of the world on your shoulders," Davis told ESPN during All-Star weekend. "You know, you gotta carry the team on your back, you gotta almost get 40 every night for us -- to give us a chance to win." Davis had just 17 points but the Pelicans made 15-of-25 3-pointers in a 109-94 victory at Miami earlier this season.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Heat C Hassan Whiteside, who missed the first matchup with the Pelicans, recorded five straight double-doubles before the break.
2. Pelicans PG Jrue Holiday scored at least 21 points in four of his last five games.
3. New Orleans PF Nikola Mirotic is shooting 30.2 percent from 3-point range in six games with the team after making 42.9 percent in 25 contests with Chicago.PREDICTION:
Pelicans 111, Heat 105
Stats and Records