A look at three key numbers related to Monday’s game at American Airlines Center between New Orleans and Dallas (7:30 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, NBA TV, 100.3 FM):
1, 2, 1: New Orleans rank among the 30 NBA teams in total rebounding percentage, offensive rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage, respectively. Dallas places 18th, 27th and 10th in those categories, making that perhaps the Pelicans’ biggest statistical advantage entering the first of three head-to-head matchups with the Mavericks this season. Steven Adams (8.9 rebounds per game), Josh Hart (8.4) and Zion Williamson (8.1) are in a close race for New Orleans leading rebounder, with Williamson and Adams combining for nearly seven offensive boards per game (Hart is the club’s top defensive rebounder). The Pelicans have also received a boost from Jaxson Hayes, who is averaging a team-high 11.5 rebounds per 36 minutes (not counting Willy Hernangomez’s rate of 20.6, but the reserve big has only played a total of seven minutes). Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram is averaging a career-high 7.1 rebounds a game. New Orleans has won the rebounding battle in seven of nine games this season, with the exceptions being a Dec. 29 loss at Phoenix and Friday’s home defeat vs. Charlotte.
4: Dallas players out of the team’s seven leading scorers in 2020-21 who could be sidelined for Monday’s game. Josh Richardson (third in scoring, 13.8 ppg), Jalen Brunson (fourth, 11.1) and Dorian Finney-Smith (sixth, 9.3) have entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol and are ruled out vs. the Pelicans, while Maxi Kleber (seventh, 7.4) is listed as questionable. Of course, the Mavericks also could get their second-leading scorer from last season back in uniform, with ESPN.com reporting that Kristaps Porzingis is questionable to play. It would be his first game action since August and the 2020 Western Conference playoffs. Among Dallas’ top seven scorers from the current season, only Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke are not part of the injury report.
20-25: Combined record of the five Southwest Division teams, an unusually poor start for what’s been perhaps the NBA’s best division over the past decade. With 5-5 San Antonio idle, 4-5 New Orleans can force a three-way tie for first place with 5-4 Dallas by prevailing Monday on the Mavericks’ home floor. In another example of how homecourt advantage has not actually been much of an advantage early in the 2020-21 season, the Southwest is a combined 9-14 at home, but 11-11 in away games. In the Pelicans’ case, it’s a very small sample size, but they’ve been much better defensively on the road (second in the NBA, allowing 102.6 points per 100 possessions, via NBA.com) than at home (18th, 109.8).
Previous game starting lineups
NEW ORLEANS (4-5)
Friday loss vs. Charlotte
Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams
Notes: The Pelicans’ streak of using the same starters for every game is in jeopardy Monday, but Adams (migraine) was upgraded this morning on the injury report from questionable to probable. … Every starter played between 33:13 and 36:30 of the loss to the Hornets. Josh Hart logged 26:43 off the bench. … Coming off one of his best games of this season, JJ Redick (right hamstring tightness) joins Adams as probable on Monday’s updated injury list.
Saturday win vs. Orlando
Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway, Josh Green, Maxi Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein
Notes: A rookie, Green made his first NBA start against the Magic, logging a career-high 15 minutes. The Arizona product was a DNP in two of the previous four games, but was elevated to the first string due to COVID-related absences by other Mavericks. … Kleber and Cauley-Stein are also relatively new additions to the group, having made three starts apiece.
Pelicans Keys To Victory
GET BACK TO STINGY DEFENSE
New Orleans ranked fourth in defensive efficiency in December, but has dropped to 23rd through its four January games. The Pelicans’ offense has improved lately, but the other end of the floor was pivotal in narrow losses to Indiana and Oklahoma City.
KNOW THEIR PERSONNEL
With several key contributors out of action, Mavericks role players such as Burke, Dwight Powell, James Johnson and Wes Iwundu could be prominent for the hosts.
TAKE CARE OF THE BALL
New Orleans briefly reduced its turnovers over a span of games, but the problem propped up again last week in the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans need to cut back on mistakes with the ball, particularly careless ones that aren’t forced by defensive pressure.