Title: Murphy: Raptors dialing up pressure on defence to fuel transition offence
Date: October 11, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I looked at how the Raptors are driving an expedited pace in the preseason and how much of that might carry over to the regular season.
A popular misnomer a year ago was that the Toronto Raptors’ vaunted Bench Mob played at a much faster pace than the starting lineup. It was certainly true that the bench appeared to play faster – they were young, athletic, and could really get out in transition. The reality was that the five-man bench unit played at a rate of 96.3 possessions per-48 minutes, a pace slower than that of any team over the entire season and about five percent slower than the perceptively plodding starters.
This is pedantic. It’s also instructive in terms of evaluating how the Raptors want to approach the 2018-19 season. So far, judging off of the words of Nick Nurse and the team’s stylistic approach through four preseason games and a public scrimmage, they want to approach things with a much greater tempo than before. It’s the how of that tempo that’s important, and it was on full display Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
To preface what follows: Historically, preseason statistics are not a great indicator of, well, much at all, but a study I conducted a few years back showed that changes in pace of play for the preseason are at least helpful hints. There was an R-squared of 0.49 between preseason and regular season pace, which explained more variance in pace than just the prior season’s pace alone (0.35). A follow-up study the year after found similar results and also showed poor predictability for a number of factors for game-to-game pace variance; in other words, there’s a lot of noise in smaller samples. The preseason is also just a little faster-paced than the regular season each year, in general.