Injury Concerns For Heat Make Pelicans +6 The NBA Pick

Jason Lake

Thursday, December 24, 2015 11:21 AM GMT

The Miami Heat host the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 1 of Friday's Christmas Day quintuple-header. The Pellies were the right NBA pick the last three times they met.

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NBA Pick: Pelicans +6

Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Dec. 24: 11-10 ATS, 3-1 Total

The 2014-15 regular season will not go down in Miami Heat history. LeBron James left town, Chris Bosh developed blood clots in his lungs, and the Heat missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Things were bad enough that Miami lost a home-and-home series with the New Orleans Pelicans last February, even though Anthony Davis was injured early in the opening game and sat out the second.

Now it's the Pelicans (9-19 SU, 11-17 ATS) who are trying to dig themselves out of a hole. They're one of several Western Conference teams getting off to a slow start this year, but things have improved recently; New Orleans is on a 3-1 SU and ATS mini-run going into Friday's big Christmas Day matchup (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Heat. The Pelicans opened as 6-point puppies on our NBA odds board with a total of 200.

 

How to Train Your Dragon
This could be a very good spot to sneak in a bet on the Pellies, just because we don't know how many warm bodies the Heat (16-11 SU, 12-14-1 ATS) will have in uniform. There are four players listed as questionable for Miami:

PG Goran Dragic (hand)
SG Tyler Johnson (shoulder)
PF Josh McRoberts (knee)
C Chris Andersen (illness)

Well, that's kind of important. Dragic (13.3 PER, –0.5 BPM) hasn't played very well this year, but his numbers for December have improved somewhat. The bigger short-term concern might be Johnson (18.1 PER, +2.3 BPM). He's been Miami's best player off the bench; the less we see of Johnson on Friday, the more we'll see of SG Josh Richardson (4.1 PER, –3.3 BPM) instead. The Heat are 4-3 SU and 3-3-1 ATS since Johnson strained his left shoulder two weeks ago.

Must Read: Betting Trends To Get The Most Out Of Your Christmas Day NBA Picks

I Got My Mojo Root
The Pelicans have certainly had their problems with injuries this year – only the Philadelphia 76ers have lost more man games. But they're much healthier now, and they looked like a legitimate Western contender in Wednesday's 115-89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers (+7.5 away). Davis was his usual MVP self with 28 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. New Orleans also shot 13-of-31 (41.9 percent) from the perimeter.

Between better health and better outside shooting, the Pellies look like they've got things back on track. There were bound to be some growing pains this year anyway with the shift to a more 3-happy offense. New Orleans is attempting 24.6 treys per game, up from 19.3 last season. Fittingly, the team's 3-point accuracy has risen from 34.4 percent in November to 37.3 percent in December. That is some hot gumbo right there. We're putting the Pels in our NBA picks, in hopes that St. Nicholas pays at +6.