Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Bucks at Pelicans (3/12/19)

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Tuesday’s game at the Smoothie King Center between Milwaukee and New Orleans (7 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):

3, 8: Rank among the 30 NBA teams in offensive efficiency for Milwaukee and New Orleans, respectively. The Bucks (50-17) and Pelicans (30-39) have been among the top 10 squads in generating points throughout all of 2018-19, though the clubs are headed in opposite directions in recent weeks. Since the All-Star break, Milwaukee has actually upped its offensive performance, at 115.8 points per 100 possessions (via NBA.com), which ranks second in the NBA, behind only Detroit (116.4), during that timeframe. New Orleans is just 22nd in offense since Feb. 21, with an offensive rating of 107.2. Oddly, the Pelicans still have a reasonable chance to finish higher in the league offensive rankings than they did in ’17-18, when they finished 48-34 and swept Portland in the first round of the playoffs. That New Orleans squad wound up 12th in offense (108.4) and 14th in defense (107.2). The ’18-19 Pelicans are No. 24 in defense, allowing 111.3 points per 100 possessions. In one statistic that reflects how many close games New Orleans has lost this season, the Pelicans are the only NBA team with a positive net rating (0.2) and point differential that still sports a losing record.

39.1: Speaking of last year’s first-round series vs. Portland, Milwaukee forward Nikola Mirotic returns to New Orleans on Tuesday for the first time since a February trade as an opposing player. Mirotic is shooting 39.1 percent from three-point distance with the Bucks, coming off the bench in nine of his 10 appearances. Milwaukee is 7-3 in Mirotic’s 10 appearances, including winning each of its first five Mirotic games. For whatever reason, Mirotic has been at his best throughout his NBA career in the spring, highlighted by powering New Orleans last season to separate 10- and nine-game winning streaks, with the latter capped by a 4-0 postseason sweep of the Trail Blazers. Mirotic compiled one of the best shooting postseason series in NOLA franchise history, connecting on 12 of 26 three-point attempts and making 57.1 percent of his overall attempts from the field.

18: Years since Milwaukee has won an NBA playoff series, a drought that dates back to 2001, when the Bucks reached the Eastern Conference finals, falling in seven games to the Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers. Milwaukee’s ’01 roster was headlined by the high-scoring trio of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson. Incredibly, despite being a competitive franchise in recent years, led by star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have the longest stretch in the league without prevailing in a postseason series, a stat they’ll be heavily favored to bring to an end next month. The second-longest such streaks belong to Charlotte, Sacramento and Minnesota, at 14 seasons apiece; all three squads are currently outside the top eight of their conference standings, on pace to make it 15 years in a row. Milwaukee is 0-8 in first-round series since ’03, most recently falling in Game 7 of the East quarterfinals vs. Boston last season.