Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Pelicans at Hawks (1/17/18)

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Wednesday’s game at Philips Arena between New Orleans and Atlanta (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):

6: Visiting teams that have prevailed in Boston’s TD Garden this season, a list that includes Milwaukee (Oct. 18, the night after Gordon Hayward’s frightening injury), Detroit, Utah, Miami, Washington (Christmas) and New Orleans (last night, 116-113 in overtime). None of those first five squads traveled to Atlanta on the next night in a back-to-back situation like the Pelicans did Wednesday, but that group is only a combined 2-2 at Philips Arena in 2017-18, meaning just because you win in Massachusetts, doesn’t mean you’ll do so in Georgia. As NBA.com’s John Schuhmann pointed out this week in his power rankings column, New Orleans (23-20) is just 3-3 in its last six games against opponents that are below .500. The Pelicans need to show they can back up Tuesday’s stellar win in Boston with a victory against a struggling host – Atlanta is 12-31 overall, 8-12 at home. New Orleans is heading into a stretch of four consecutive matchups with teams that currently sport losing records, but is a combined 1-2 vs. Atlanta, Memphis, Chicago and Charlotte (both losses came at FedEx Forum against the Grizzlies).

17: Hawks three-pointers made in New Orleans on Nov. 13, which kept Atlanta in the hunt during what ultimately was a one-point Pelicans home win. That 17/36 performance beyond the three-point stripe remains tied for the Hawks’ most prolific evening of the entire season, with little-known reserve Tyler Cavanaugh leading the charge with a 4/4 game. Former New Orleans players Marco Belinelli (4/6) and Luke Babbitt (4/9) also got hot from deep. New Orleans is just 4-9 this season when it allows the opponent to connect on 15 or more three-pointers, but the Nov. 13 victory represented one of those triumphs. The Pelicans were fortunate to escape with a 106-105 verdict, partly because Darius Miller enjoyed the best night of his NBA career, scoring several crucial baskets in a 21-point outing. Miller was 5/8 from three-point range.

7: New Orleans rank in offensive efficiency among the 30 NBA teams, at 108.4 points per 100 possessions (via NBA.com). The Pelicans rate better than the Hawks at both ends of the floor, but that differential is much greater on offense, where Atlanta is No. 19 (104.2). While the Pelicans’ top scorers and players are in their sixth, eighth and ninth pro seasons, respectively (Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Jrue Holiday), the Hawks are reliant on a much greener core. Primary Atlanta threat Dennis Schroder (20.3 points per game) is in his fifth NBA year, but only second as a full-time starter. No. 2 scorer Taurean Prince (12.6 ppg) is a second-year pro. Atlanta’s most promising reserve is rookie John Collins, who comes off the bench and averages 22.0 minutes.