New Orleans Pelicans (0-3) at Miami HEAT (1-3)
NBA Basketball: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm (AmericanAirlines Arena)
FREE NBA Pick New Orleans Pelicans vs. Miami HEAT
Two playoff hopefuls look to sharpen up before the start of the regular season as the New Orleans Pelicans travel to Miami to take on the HEAT for a preseason exhibition game.
New Orleans seeks their first win with a new roster. Turmoil stuck the Pelicans midway through last season as All-Star center Demarcus Cousins ruptured his achilles tendon. It was only fitting that this injury happened during a hot streak for the team, in a game where they handed the Houston Rockets one of their 17 losses on the season. But the team led by their go-go-gadget armed superstar Anthony Davis, stayed hungry. With a trade for sharpshooting big Nikola Mirotić they were able retool the roster at the deadline. Mirotić and Davis, playing the 4 and 5 respectively, created a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. Come playoff time this tandem cannibalized the Portland Trail Blazer’s bigs, proving to have too much range and speed for traditional big men. Surprisingly, this big man rotation looks to have even more talent this year with the addition of Julius Randle.
The skilled forward-center, who moonlights as a wrecking ball, provides a unique style of play that differs from Davis and Mirotić. Randle enjoys facing up, driving and using his strength to bully players. Already having a mismatch exploiting front-court, Randle will only increase the team’s ability to employ specific lineups that targets a particular weakness. Averaging 13 points while shooting 66% from the field, Randle continues to learn his role on his new team. He is even attempting more 3-pointers, shooting 1.5 per preseason game, up from his .5 last season. Randle’s willingness to shoot from range will be crucial in how he fits alongside Anthony Davis. Davis’ best position is the aforementioned 5, but his willingness to regularly battle with centers during the season may not be entirely there. Will this leave Randle to guard centers with Davis on the court? With the Pelicans lacking at the small-forward position, be coerced to throw out a lineup featuring all three bigs, with Mirotić playing the 3? The Pelicans have an interesting dilemma on their hands, time will tell how they go about addressing it.
Last summer, the Miami HEAT decided to invest in their hard-working culture and reward their free agents with fairly generous contracts. James Johnson, Dion Waiters, and Josh Richardson all resigned with the team, swallowing up all of the remaining cap space. James Johnson remains a steady contributor. The residents of Waiters Island, once a bustling tourist destination, have started to pack their bags as the guard will not be ready for the start of the regular season as he struggles with a lingering ankle injury. Josh Richardson continues to improve, expanding his offensive role.
With a full cap-sheet the HEAT were left with little options to improve this year. With the Jimmy Butler trade-request and the circus that quickly followed, Pat Riley and the HEAT found a potential way to improve their team. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that a trade was almost completed amongst the two teams, but fell apart in the final moments.Richardson, centerpiece of a potential trade, did not suite up for their last preseason game. This could possibly occur again, but appears to be unlikely with the falling out between the two teams. Hassan Whiteside, who spent the offseason carefully showcasing his workouts on Instagram, appears to have escaped coach Erik Spoelstra’s hot seat for the time being, averaging 12.5 points and rebounds per game so far this preseason.
FREE NBA Pick Miami HEAT vs. New Orleans Pelicans
The HEAT’s stout defense will be challenged by the fast-paced, potent offense of the Pelicans. Who will be tasked with guarding Anthony Davis? Whiteside is a bit too slow of foot. Justise Winslow is a bit too short. Davis might have a big game, while providing his fellow bigs with seams to exploit the defense. It being a preseason game, both coaches will dig deep into their benches. The HEAT have a much deeper roster, so this proves to be an advantage for them. All things considered, my bet is with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Pick: New Orleans Pelicans