Tune-In Tidbits: ESPN Sunday, April 18, 2021
Get ready for Sunday's ESPN doubleheader with five key stats to know about each matchup.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
Pelicans (25-31) at Knicks (30-27)
1 p.m. ET, ESPN
• New York won the first meeting of the season with New Orleans, 116-106 on April 14, behind Julius Randle’s 32 points as well as a 20-point advantage (43-23) in bench points, including 21 alone from Alec Burks.
• Zion Williamson was the primary defender on Julius Randle for a team-high 6:07 in the first meeting and held him to six points on 2-9 shooting. Randle scored just 18.8% of his points against Zion in 40.6% of his total offensive matchup time. In a nearly identical 40.8% of his time against either James Johnson or Steven Adams, Randle scored 18 points on 6-12 shooting from the field, 3-4 from 3-point range and 3-3 from the free throw line.
• Among players that have come off the bench for at least 20 games, New York has three of the top 22 scorers in Derrick Rose (12.8 ppg, 11th), Alec Burks (12.2, 16th) and Immanuel Quickly (11.4, 22nd). No other teams has three players ranked as high and only four teams have two players in the top 22.
• Zion Williamson ranks eighth in the NBA in field goal percentage at 61.5%, while averaging 26.7 points per game. Williamson is on pace to join Kevin McHale as the only players to average over 25 points on 60% shooting or better over a full season. McHale accomplished the feat in 1986-87 when he averaged 26.1 points on 60.4% shooting; Williamson is currently topping both of those marks.
• New York enters Sunday riding a five-game win streak – their longest streak since winning eight straight games from March 5-21, 2014. During this current streak, Julius Randle is averaging 30.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists, while the Knicks have five other players averaging between 11 and 15 points per game to balance out the offense. Over all teams’ last five games, New York ranks ninth in offensive efficiency (116.0) and fifth in defensive efficiency (107.0). However, during this same five game stretch, the Pelicans rank second in defense, allowing only 103.6 points per 100 possessions; they rank 28th offensively (105.7).
Nets (38-18) at Heat (28-28)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
• The Nets lead the season series 2-0, sweeping a two-game series in Brooklyn from Jan. 23-25. While the Nets were missing Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, these were two of the seven games that the Brooklyn Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played together. The Nets will be short-handed today as Harden is out with a hamstring injury. Brooklyn has gone 5-3 in his absence (including the game when he played four minutes before re-aggrevating the hamstring on April 5, with Irving leading the way at 24.3 ppg and Durant adding 23.8 ppg in four of the eight games.
• In their first meeting of the season on Jan. 23, Bam Adebayo scored a career-high 41 points on 14-20 shooting. However, the Heat are just 1-7 this season when Adebayo scores 25 points or more, and 23-19 when he scores below 25 points.
• The Heat are 24-17 this season with Jimmy Butler in the lineup and just 4-11 without him. Butler is averaging 21.7 points (his highest scoring average since the 2017-18 season; 22.2) and career-highs in rebounds (7.2 rpg), assists (7.2 apg), steals (league-leading 2.1 spg) and field goal percentage (49.7%). He is one of six players averaging at least 21-7-7 this season along with Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
• Kyrie Irving is averaging a career-best 27.5 points per game and is very close to putting together a 50-40-90 shooting season. His 51.5% shooting from the field is a career best (2.4 percentage points higher than previous mark of 49.1 in 2017-18). His 91.3% free throw shooting is one of three seasons when he’s shot over 90% at the line. The only piece currently missing is 3-point percentage at 39.5%; he has shot over 40% from beyond the arc four times in his career, including three of the past four seasons.
• Brooklyn’s 61.0 true shooting percentage is on pace to become the top mark on record, topping the 60.3% from the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors. The Nets lead the NBA in overall field goal percentage (49.5%), third in 3-point percentage (39.1%) and sixth in free throw percentage (80.6%).