Miami Heat Brace for Norris Cole, New Orleans Pelicans


Tonight’s game between the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans is a battle for the postseason, with the past and the future both on display. Check out the start time, TV info, preview and more.

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Location: Game will be played in Miami at the AmericanAirlines Arena
TV Info: Fox Sports
Radio: 104.3 The Ticket

The past and future will clash in Miami on Saturday night. Point guards Goran Dragic and Norris Cole will be making both a first and lasting impression on their new teams.

The Heat are coming off a blowout victory over the New York Knicks on Friday, one in which only nine players were available. Dragic and his brother , Zoran, were both unavailable, as was Chris Bosh, who is still undergoing tests in a Miami-area hospital.

The Knicks are a disjointed mess and eight Heat players were able to score in double figures, including Dwyane Wade, back from a lingering hamstring injury for his first game-type action in weeks.

But the Pelicans aren’t like the rotting Big Apple and the return of Cole is an added incentive for a team that’s fighting for their playoff lives.

New Orleans welcomed back Anthony Davis on Friday, a 94-84 loss to the Orlando Magic. The Pelicans have lost four games straight (coinciding with a Davis shoulder injury) and their superstar is struggling to round into form. The addition of Cole, who desperately needed a change of scenery, should be an unexpected boost.

Miami fans had turned on Cole this season, expecting the fourth-year guard to make a huge leap as a starter. The leap never came and his confidence seemed to ebb away. But people in attendance at the AmericanAirlines Arena should loudly cheer for Cole, who provided tenacity and quality play over his tenure in Miami.

Perhaps no player will be more scrutinized – or appreciated – as much as Dragic. His impact should be immediate; this breakdown lets you know exactly what to look for. Beyond what he does on the court, he represents a commitment to winning now and a return to relevancy, instantly becoming a cornerstone for the franchise. He’ll likely start on Saturday and gives head coach Erik Spoelstra some freedom with a roster that has anchored him all season.

Still, fans would do well to temper that excitement somewhat. Bosh’s health has cast a shadow on the trade. He’s a fan favorite and the team’s statistical leader but, off the court, it’s the concern for a family man and person that weighs heavily on Heat fans.

As for what Miami can do on the floor, it will depend on Wade’s continued recovery and his ability to mesh well with Dragic. He shot 4-of-10 from the field, finishing with 12 points but he looked energized and ready. But the surprise performance of the night was Udonis Haslem, whose 13 points – and first career 3-pointer – was encouraging as a starter. It’s unlikely that he’ll match that production but, as always, Haslem’s impact can usually extend beyond the box score.

These teams are similarly competing for a postseason berth but appear headed in different directions. Dragic’ acquisition has provided some encouragement while the Pelicans’ losing streak (and dropping their last four matchups against sub -.500 teams) has the team pessimistic about their chances.

Hopefully, the teams will continue that trend after a Miami victory.