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Nets visit Heat in Miami

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NBA: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on your perspective, it's always nice to witness history in person. For the Brooklyn Nets, they were on the wrong side of it as Rajon Rondo set a New Orleans (Hornets and Pelicans) record with 25 assists as the Pelicans cruised to an easy win on Wednesday night. It was Brooklyn's third straight loss and eighth in their last ten.

The opponent tonight will be the Miami Heat. They've picked things up as of late and have won seven out of their last ten games, including Tuesday's contest against the Orlando Magic. This is the first night of a back to back. They face the Magic in Orlando tomorrow before returning to action on January 3. New Year's in Miami sounds like a dream come true.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM.

Injuries

Caris Levert is questionable with a hip injury.

Dion Waiters will be out a few weeks due to an ankle injury. James Johnson is out. Justise Winslow is out as well.

The game

Miami won the first game earlier this month in Mexico City.

On Wednesday, Nike unveiled some of their City Edition jerseys. We covered the Nets ones here, so let's see what Miami is rocking...

As someone who enjoys Miami Vice and LOVED Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, these jerseys are perfect. It also pays homage to the original Miami arena, which makes it even doper. Shout out to creativity.

Like most games, turnovers will decide this one. The Heat turn it over 16 percent of the time they have the ball, second highest mark in the league. However, Brooklyn forces teams to turn the ball over only 12.9 percent of the time, second lowest mark in the league.

With Waiters Island under construction, Goran Dragic will take on more of the ball handling responsibilities. He’s been driving to the rim a bit less this year (14 times a game this season compared to 17 in 2016-2017) and it’s led to him getting to the free throw line less as a result. On the bright side, he’s been turning the ball over at the lowest rate of his career this season. Like most of his teammates, Spencer Dinwiddie had a forgettable evening in New Orleans. Brooklyn is going to need a more steady shooting performance from Dinwiddie tonight. Over the past ten games, Dinwiddie is shooting 39.7 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three point range. The Nets need scoring from any and all sources, and if Dinwiddie is unable to score, their chances for winning decrease dramatically.

Assuming Levert is limited or out, that should lead to an increase in minutes for Nik Stauskas. Stauskas has been a positive contributor since the trade earlier this month and he provides some good three point shooting for a team desperately in need of it. He doesn’t provide the playmaking Levert does, so Brooklyn is hoping he’ll be good to go for this one.

How close is Jahlil Okafor? No one is saying anything definitive.

“We’re going to stick with his plan that is in place,” Kenny Atkinson said after the Pelicans game. “We’re not going to all of a sudden rush into something because of one bad loss. Patience with Jahlil. He’s working his tail off. It’s just going to take a little more time.”

Player to watch: Hassan Whiteside

Look who's back. After missing most of December due to a knee injury, Hassan Whiteside made his return to action on Tuesday. He only played 17 minutes and that’s probably where he’ll top out at in his first days back on the court. And now that he’s back, things are a bit different then when he last played. He made note of the changes and the expectations Erik Spoelstra and the coaching staff will have of him going forward, saying:

"You're going to get assists when you handle the ball more. It's just part of the game. He's putting it into the big's hands more. I was sitting alongside Juwan [Howard, the assistant coach in charge of the big men] and just seeing that.

I love it, man. I can't wait to get my hands into that. It's not as much pick-and-roll as much as it was. It's more handoffs, bigs flashing to the elbows, that sort of stuff."

Teams need their big men to do more, so it'll be interesting to see how Whiteside adjusts to his new responsibilities.

For the Nets big men, being in Miami will be a vacation compared to what they’ve had to deal with this week. On Tuesday, they had to deal with the duo of Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge. On Wednesday, they had DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. While Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo bring a lot of good skills to the table, they’re a step down from what Brooklyn has suffered through the past few days.

From the Vault

On this day 44 years, Chad “Pimp C” Butler was born. Let’s take some time to remember Pimp by revisiting “Ridin’ Dirty” one more time.

More reading: Hot Hot Hoops