Heat vs Pelicans Picks and Predictions for March 4

Updated: March 4, 2021

The Miami Heat are limping into the All-Star break, with two key players questionable tonight and the freight-train disguised-as-a-human, a.k.a. Zion Williamson, is waiting for them tonight in an intriguing NBA betting matchup.

Oddsmakers are expecting the Pelicans to hold court, setting them as home favorites against the defending Eastern Conference champions, with a total rising behind New Orleans’ penchant to play in high-scoring games.

Can the Heat head into the break at .500, or will Zion & Co. be too much to handle? Check out our thoughts in our free NBA picks and predictions for Heat vs. Pelicans, with tip-off scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans betting preview


Heat: Bam Adebayo C (Questionable), Jimmy Butler F (Questionable), Avery Bradley G (Out).
Pelicans: None to report.
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Over 5-0 in the Pelicans’ last five games on 0 days rest. Find more NBA betting trends for Heat vs. Pelicans.

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The line opened at New Orleans -3.5 and early money on the Heat moved that to -2. The total started at 224.5 and Over backers have pushed it up to 227. Check back later for a full report from Patrick!

Check out the full line movement for this game

Against the spread (ATS) pick

The Heat were buried by injuries to start the season, getting off to an 11-17 start, then finally got healthy and rode a six-game win streak to crawl back to 17-17…but now the injury bug has reared its ugly head again.

Star swingman Jimmy Butler has sat out the last two games with right knee inflammation, and key big man Bam Adebayo looked hampered by a nagging knee injury of his own as Miami dropped an absolute stinker in a 94-80 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. The Heat shot an ugly 37 percent from the floor and were dominated on the glass—and with a nice week-long break ahead of them, Miami could opt to rest both of its star players and have them ready to go when play resumes.

The Pelicans are also coming off a disappointing loss, a 128-124 home defeat to the Bulls, which saw New Orleans trail by as much as 18 in the fourth quarter. The Pels are one of the most maddening teams in the Association: they have lost three of their last four, but the win was over the NBA-leading Utah Jazz. They have the talent to compete with anyone, powered by Zion Williamson turning into a near-unstoppable offensive weapon, but their defense is suspect, which is why they can’t seem to get over the hump.

Fortunately for New Orleans, the version of the Heat it will face tonight plays to its strengths. Miami is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, and will be even worse with a hampered (or absent) Adebayo, while the Pelicans sit fifth in the league in boards per game. The Heat are also the stingiest team in the league in points in the paint allowed per game, but Adebayo sitting removes their premier rim defender, and New Orleans makes a living in the paint. Williamson averages 9.0 field goals made per game from five feet or closer to the hoop and converts 64 percent of his attempts—helping the Pelicans to average 52.7 points in the paint per game this season and 59.3 per game over their last three contests.

The Pelicans are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games as a home favorite, have failed to cover their last four games as a favorite overall and if the Heat were fully healthy, I’d back them in this matchup. But they’re not healthy, and without their two best players – and no real way to stop Zion – I’m going to buck the trends and back the Pelicans.

PREDICTION: New Orleans -2 (-110)

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Over/Under pick

I mentioned how the Pelicans are capable of beating anyone on a given night, but New Orleans is hamstrung by an absolutely putrid defense: New Orleans allows the fourth-most points per game, the fifth-highest opponent field goal percentage and third-highest opponent 3-point percentage. It hasn’t held an opponent under 100 points since the fifth game of the season and has allowed 124.8 ppg over its last 12 contests. Yuck.

Yes, the Heat are coming off a whopping 80 point “effort”, but they didn’t have Butler, Adebayo was not himself and they just had a poor shooting night against a sneaky-good Atlanta defense, which boasts the third-lowest opponent 3-point percentage (which held Miami to 9 of 33 on Tuesday).

Facing the Pelicans’ sieve-like defense, which is playing on a back-to-back, should allow much better looks from behind the arc. Even without their two key players, Miami has a bevy of guards capable of putting up points to hang up with the Pelicans, who we know will get their points.

The total for this game is rising, and rightly so: the Over has hit in 26 of the Pels’ last 30 games. Grab the Over now before this number keeps going up. 

PREDICTION: Over 227 (-110)

Player prop pick

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Zion is punishing any and all opponents right now…literally and figuratively.

Last year’s first-overall pick is averaging 25.6 points per game this season, but has upped that to 28.7 ppg over his last 10, scoring fewer than 26 points just twice in that span. He’s done it by simply just bullying his way into the paint, as during this stretch he’s only hit two 3-pointers—on six attempts.

Zion’s lack of threes is made up for by getting to the free-throw line, where he’s attempted at least nine free throws in seven of his last eight games. He’s shooting 69.5 percent from the line this season but put up a miserable 8-of-16 effort last night against Chicago, which led to him pushing on his total of 28 points.

Tonight, we’re looking at a total of 26.5 points, and with his ability to get into the paint – and our expectation for Miami to struggle defending him – Zion should get plenty of free throws in this game. As long as he’s back to hitting around two-thirds of those shots, he should have no problem surpassing the total. 

PREDICTION: Zion Williamson Over 26.5 points (-113)

Heat vs Pelicans betting card

  • New Orleans -2 (-110)
  • Over 227 (-110)
  • Zion Williamson Over 26.5 points (-113)

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