New Orleans Pelicans: 3 storylines to watch against the Miami Heat

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Stan Van Gundy
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans: Stan Van Gundy demands more

The Heat are currently trending up.

They only lost five of their fifteen games in February, a vast improvement over a really rough first month of the season. Over the last few weeks, the Heat have revindicated themselves. They have picked up wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, and Utah Jazz to name a few.

There’s no doubt that the Heat will be a tough test for the Pelicans, but hopefully New Orleans is up and ready for this game. In their second game of the season, the Pels lost by double digits on the road at the American Airlines Arena. In hindsight, it’s a tough loss to digest. Tyler Herro scored 11 points, while Jimmy Butler played just over 16 minutes and had four points.

Head coach Stan Van Gundy called out his squad in light of the Pelicans’ loss to the Bulls. It was a very winnable game for the Pelicans, but they didn’t even have a real chance until the closing minutes of the contest. Too many defensive lapses and a lack of effort eventually proved insurmountable.

light. Related Story. How to fix the Pelicans' three-point defense

In many ways, the Pelicans are a perplexing team. Their defensive effort ebbs and flows and pinpointing exactly why is difficult. Part of it generally does end up being a lack of character, while their woeful perimeter defense definitely does not help matters.

It is concerning that Van Gundy, primarily a defensive coach, has failed to imprint his personality on the Pelicans. They give up the fourth most points out of any team in the NBA and are second last in defensive rating. We are 35 games into the season, so an adjustment period to a new scheme or coach is no longer a valid excuse.

Simply put, how the Pelicans respond against Miami will test this roster’s perseverance. Van Gundy is no longer being as succinct as he was early in the year. He has flat-out demanded that his players hold themselves accountable on defense.

Let’s see what happens.