The New Orleans Pelicans have made the Over a tasty NBA pick, but are the Miami Heat the right dance partner for Thursday night’s matchup?
Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Thursday, March 04, 2021 – 08:30 PM EST at Smoothie King Center
There aren’t any sure things in sports betting, but the New Orleans Pelicans (15-20 SU and ATS) have made a ton of money for Over bettors this year. The Pelicans are replete with young, exciting talent – including Zion Williamson, who will represent the Big Easy at Sunday’s All-Star Game – but they don’t play defense very well. That all adds up to a 26-9 record for the Over, the most profitable pick in the league. As you may recall, I recommended the Over for their February 25 tilt against the Milwaukee Bucks, and they delivered, losing 129-125 (Over 242 on the closing line) as 8-point road dogs.
It would be easier to keep the Over in your NBA picks if the Miami Heat (17-18 SU, 15-19-1 ATS) weren’t the other team in Thursday’s contest. Miami are the polar opposite of the Pelicans; their defense is one of the best in the league, but they can’t seem to buy a bucket. The Under is 19-16 for Miami heading into this matchup. Is that enough of a deterrent for us to make a different pick?
Will Butler Do It?
There’s another problem with Thursday’s game: Jimmy Butler. Miami’s best player has missed the past two games with inflammation in his right knee. Both those games went Under. However, the Over went 7-5 in the other dozen games Butler (plus-1.5 VORP) has missed this year. He’s considered questionable for Thursday, although reports say Butler has made the trip to New Orleans, so there’s a good chance he’ll suit up. Less certain to play: Bam Adebayo (plus-1.8 VORP). He’s been dealing with some left knee tendinitis, aka jumper’s knee, and has been downgraded to questionable for Thursday’s game. This being the last game before the All-Star break, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Heat give Adebayo the night off. Avery Bradley (minus-0.1 VORP) is also on the shelf with a strained right calf, but it’s the status of Adebayo and Butler that has the NBA odds on hold as we go to press. At least they’re both solid two-way players, so they’ll be missed at both ends of the court if they don’t play.
Over And Over
It’s harder still to project which Pelicans will suit up on Thursday. They don’t have anyone on the injured list at press time, but they’ll be playing on zero days of rest after hosting the Chicago Bulls, who beat them 128-124 (Over 237) as 6-point road dogs. Williamson (plus-1.7 VORP) played 37 minutes for the Pels; Eric Bledsoe (0.0 VORP) was even busier at 42 minutes total.
Given how carefully teams across the league are treating their star players heading into the break – especially the ones like Williamson who will be playing Sunday – it’s probably a good idea tovkeep your bet sizes small, no matter which side you take. But I’m happy to put out an early recommendation for the Over given what the Pelicans have been doing this year.
NBA Pick: Over 224½ (-110) at BetMGM