Tonight’s NBA Expert Free Pick
Pelicans vs. Heat (-5.5)
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
The Heat opened as a 6-point favorite, the line dropping to -5 at some online sportsbooks within hours. The total has jumped from a 224.5 opener to 227 across most outlets.
Injuries galore mar this late preseason clash between the Pelicans and Heat. Miami is guaranteed to miss James Johnson (hernia) and Dion Waters (ankle), while Goran Dragic (knee), Wayne Ellington (ankle) and Derrick Jones Jr. (shoulder) are all questionable. New Orleans, on the other hand, will be without Jrue Holiday (coach’s decision), E’Twaun Moore (coach’s decision), star Anthony Davis (coach’s decision), and Jahlil Okafor (ankle). Young prospects seeking roster spots will feature for both.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 9, 2018
Nikola Mirotic will be the go-to for New Orleans. He led the team with 19 points in a 106-100 loss to the Knicks on Friday. The Pelicans, in fact, have not claimed a victory in three exhibition games, the defense yielding 116.7 points per game. Julius Randle should also see significant time as he adjusts to a new system and teammates.
Offensively, New Orleans has a fresh approach, adopting the more analytics-friendly 3-point barrage. It is averaging 40 treys per game this preseason, far more than the 28.2 the squad averaged last year.
Look for Miami to rest many of its first-team players tonight, and in the final tune-up hosting the Hawks on Friday. This is head coach Eric Spoelstra’s modus operandi this time of year, to ready and recuperate his starters for opening night next week.
When DeMarcus Cousins—now with the Warriors—went down last season, the Pelicans went 23-12 straight-up and 25-10 against the spread when tossing up 23 or more from behind the arc. The team posted 113.7 points per game in this spot, as opposed to 104.8 firing less. There’s a reason the entire NBA is adopting the high-efficient shot.
The Heat are thin on the perimeter, which should help the Pelicans’ long-range game to flourish. New Orleans keeps it close, and maybe even sneaks out a win.