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Behind the Numbers: Pelicans at 76ers (1/25/22)

A look at three key numbers related to Tuesday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center between New Orleans and Philadelphia (6 p.m. Central, Bally Sports New Orleans, ESPN Radio New Orleans 100.3 FM):

77.9: Combined points per game New Orleans will be missing Tuesday due to players sidelined. When the Pelicans released their official injury report this morning, eight different roster members were listed as out, including leading scorer Brandon Ingram (22.4 points per game), along with fellow starters Jonas Valanciunas (18.3), Devonte’ Graham (14.0) and Josh Hart (13.5). Add in Kira Lewis Jr. (5.9) and Trey Murphy III (3.8) and that’s nearly 80 points per game from the 2021-22 campaign that won’t be on the court in Pennsylvania. As a result, New Orleans will have a maximum of nine players in uniform Tuesday. From a point production standpoint, the leaders of that nine-man contingent are Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12.7) and rookie starter Herbert Jones (9.1). Beyond Alexander-Walker and Jones, Garrett Temple (13 starts), Willy Hernangomez (three starts), Tomas Satoransky (three starts) and Gary Clark (one start) have been in the first string for New Orleans this season. Coming off the bench in every appearance so far are Jaxson Hayes (34 games), Naji Marshall (23 games) and Jose Alvarado (19 games).

7-4: New Orleans record against the Eastern Conference since Nov. 24, after starting the season 0-8 in that category. Over that two-month span, the Pelicans have beaten top-six playoff teams Milwaukee and Cleveland, as well as play-in hopefuls Washington and New York. Continued success against the opposite conference will be a necessity for New Orleans if it hopes to move further up the standings, because including Tuesday’s visit to Pennsylvania, four of the next five Pelicans games are against the East, as well as six of the next 11. Defense has been pivotal in the club’s turnaround in interconference competition, with New Orleans ranking eighth among the 30 NBA teams in defensive efficiency while facing the East (108.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, via NBA.com).

29: Season-high free throws made for New Orleans in its Monday win over Indiana. Despite the Pelicans enduring their second-worst three-point percentage game of the season (20 percent, going 6 of 30), they were still able to score 117 points and prevail. New Orleans outscored Indiana 64-32 in the paint, while hitting 11 more free throws than the Pacers. Foul shots have helped keep the Pelicans out of the bottom five of the NBA in offensive efficiency, with the club ranking sixth in makes (17.3 per game) and eighth in percentage (78.5). Both were critical Monday, when New Orleans shot 29/31 at the charity stripe. New Orleans is 11-8 this season when it makes 19 or more free throws, but 7-20 when it does not. Hart was 9/9 at the line against the Pacers, setting a career high for makes and bouncing back from going 6/12 over the previous two games. Alexander-Walker’s 6/6 outing represented his second-most makes in 2021-22.

PREVIOUS GAME STARTING LINEUPS

NEW ORLEANS (18-28, 11TH IN WEST)

Monday win vs. Indiana

Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Garrett Temple, Herbert Jones, Jonas Valanciunas

Notes: This group is 1-0. It was the 12th different lineup New Orleans has used (a 13th is guaranteed to occur Tuesday). The Pelicans only have one other victory this season when Ingram doesn’t play, beating Cleveland on Dec. 28 with Clark starting in the injured Hart’s spot. … New Orleans is two games behind 10th-place Portland in the West, with the Trail Blazers hosting Minnesota late Tuesday in Oregon.

PHILADELPHIA (27-19, 6TH IN EAST)

Sunday win at San Antonio

Tyrese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz, Charlie Brown Jr., Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid

Notes: This group is 1-0. It was the 23rd different lineup Philadelphia has used. Signed to a two-way contract, Brown made just his second start of 2021-22 and third of his three-year NBA career. He’s played a total of 31 career games for four different teams. … The 76ers are 1.5 games ahead of seventh-place Charlotte (26-21) in the race to avoid being part of the East play-in tournament.

FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME

BRING THE ENERGY

New Orleans will have a minimal number of players available (nine) and several Pelicans will likely have to play more minutes than they have all season. Any NBA team in this situation will need to outwork and outhustle the opposition to have a chance to win.

NEXT MEN UP

With four-fifths of the starting lineup out of action, young Pelicans like Alexander-Walker, Hayes and Alvarado could receive a greater-than-ever opportunity to shine and build on recent positive contributions.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Valanciunas is out, so the task is trying to figure out a way to slow down Embiid (38.4 points per game in his last contests) goes to Hayes and Hernangomez. New Orleans did a decent job in the Oct. 20 season opener, with Embiid posting 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.