Latest Heat loss proves importance of polarizing duo

A quick start for the Miami Heat was short-lived once the New Orleans Pelicans dared the Heat to shoot.

New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat
New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat / Rich Storry/GettyImages

After defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in their first matchup, Jimmy Butler proclaimed that the Heat were the better team and that they would beat the Pelicans the next time they faced. Unfortunately, Butler and the Heat did not live up to those words and were defeated handily by New Orleans, 111-88, Friday night at the Kaseya Center.

A quick start for the Miami Heat was short lived once the New Orleans Pelicans dared the Heat to shoot.

The Miami Heat got out to one of their best starts of the season behind a strong defensive effort and a hot start from Nikola Jovic who scored eight points in the first quarter. After taking a 14-2 lead, the Pelicans decided to play zone and made Miami rely on the three as their only source of offense.

Miami took 15 threes in the first quarter and made only two, and in the blink of an eye, the Heat found themselves 21-20 after one. With no Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson, the Pelicans lived with each Heat player hoisting threes as there was no real threat that replicate the shooting of Herro and Robinson.

The Heat managed to win games with no Herro because they had Robinson who is effective in many actions Miami runs such as the dribble hand off, back door cuts and getting to the rim when overplayed. But with both of those players out, the DHO's were completely erased and the offense resulted into a drive-and-kick machine with New Orleans packing the paint.

Although New Orleans was without Brandon Ingram and had a quiet performance from Zion Williamson who finished with only four points on seven shots, the Pelicans had floor spacers such as CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy who hurt Miami from beyond the arc. As a team, the Pelicans made 18 threes and shot 50 percent from downtown compared to the Heat who shot 27.7 percent from deep and made only 13.

With Robinson and Herro out, the Heat played Cole Swider, who actually shot well and made four triples. But Swider is still raw and is nowhere near ready to run the actions Miami puts Herro and Robinson in that puts the defense on their heels.

Until one of Herro and Robinson returns, many teams will continue to make sure Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler see multiple bodies in the paint whenever they look to attack and will crowd any screen action ran with Adebayo.

Unless the Heat can get a collective good shooting outing from a multitude of players or big performances from Butler and Adebayo, Miami is going to have to rely on getting easy buckets off of good defense and finding mismatches in transitions with their two best floor spacers out.