Rockets Pelicans Basketball

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) celebrates after scoring against the Houston Rockets in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)

The New Orleans Pelicans look to keep their win streak alive when they host the Miami Heat on the second night of a back-to-back stretch. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at the Smoothie King Center.

New Orleans cruised to a 127-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday in its first game since the All-Star Break. The Pelicans covered as 6.5-point favorites in their fourth consecutive win, which eased the nerves of fans who were worried the brief hiatus would halt their momentum.

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The hosts had three players score 20+ points in their recent victory, led by a 28-point effort by CJ McCollum. Zion Williamson recorded 27 points and nine assists, while Jonas?Valan?iūnas?added 20 points and 14 rebounds.

New Orleans has been playing some of its best basketball lately, winning eight of its previous nine contents. The team’s only loss during that stretch was when it scored 122 points and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thanks to this recent run, the Pelicans are now firmly in the No. 5 spot in the West Conference standings with a 34-22 overall record. The Dallas Mavericks are one game behind them as the top-six teams avoid the Play-In Tournament.

New Orleans’ opponent on Friday, Miami, made it to the NBA Finals from the Play-In Tournament a season ago. The Heat are again sitting No. 8 in the East with a 30-25 record but carry a two-game win streak into tonight’s matchup.?

The Pelicans are 3.5-point favorites at home with an over/under of 220.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends via FanDuel Sportsbook:

Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans

Time/TV:?7 p.m. CT (Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass)

Spread:?New Orleans -3.5

Total:?220

Moneyline:?New Orleans -156, Miami +132

Analysis:?A big reason for the Pelicans’ recent run is that Williamson has been asked to play more on the ball. New Orleans has encouraged him to bring the ball up the floor, and he can initiate offensive sets.

Point Williamson has started to rack up assists, recording 17 over his last two games alone. He has averaged 6.5 assists during this four-game win streak, which is up to 6.1 dimes over his previous 10. For comparison, his season average is 4.9 assists per contest.

As a result, the assist prop for Williamson has bumped up to 5.5. The over is priced at +120 at DraftKings and is worth a look if you want to follow his recent form. But we are opting to play it safe with a same-game parlay at FanDuel, where all we need is for Williamson to record four assists in a win. He has dished four dimes in seven straight contests, which coincides with the Pelicans playing their best basketball.

Prediction:?New Orleans 114, Miami 107 (Over 220)

Best bet:?Zion?Williamson to record four-plus assists and Pelicans ML (SGP with -113 odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)

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