Title: The Raptors are slowing down
Date: March 22, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ slowing down their pace and took a look at what might be causing it.
About two weeks back, the inimitable John Schuhmann of NBA.com did as he often does, providing an interesting update on the league’s offences and defenses since February’s All-Star break. It wasn’t exceptionally interesting with respect to the overall performance of the Toronto Raptors – they remain solid at both ends and had still been among the league’s biggest gainers in net rating – but there was an interesting change underlying the steady overall performance: The Raptors have slowed down.
That Schuhmann Stat (TM) led a few readers to ask what had changed in the Raptors’ approach that was decreasing their pace. For context, at the time of Schuhmann’s post, the Raptors had the second-most drastic decrease in pace pre- and post-break, playing at the league’s No. 9 pace before and its No. 25 pace after. While normally the All-Star break can look like an arbitrary endpoint, in this case it does line up with the Raptors’ drop in pace quite nicely, so I’m not going to move the endpoints diving in.
Updating Schuhmann’s numbers to run through Thursday’s games, the Raptors have gone from ninth in pace with 100.52 possessions per team per 48 minutes before the break to 26th in pace with 98.08 possessions per team per 48 minutes since. A change of 2.44 possessions over 48 minutes may not seem like a lot, but that’s equivalent to the difference between the league’s fastest team (the Lakers) and its eighth-fastest (the Hawks), or from its slowest (the Grizzlies) to the league median (the Nuggets and Rockets).