OKC slows it down, blow out Spurs

Of all the adjustments the Thunder made in Game 3, slowing the pace of the game was most important.

Hollinger explains in today's PER Diem (Insider):

In a fast-paced game, the Spurs have a nearly five-point advantage, which translates to San Antonio winning two-thirds of the time on a neutral court. In a slow-paced game? The advantage shifts to the Thunder by about two points, which translates into the Thunder winning 57 percent of the time.

We're not talking about some minor, marginal shift. A jump from 33 percent to 57 percent means that Oklahoma City's odds of winning don't just increase; they nearly double if they get the pace down to 95 possessions or fewer.

Why is that? Looking a little closer, we can see that each team benefits on both sides of the ball from playing its preferred pace, but the biggest changes come at the defensive end.

Everybody focuses on the Thunder's athleticism and finishing ability in the open court, but a fast-paced game does more to expose their poor transition defense than to highlight their offensive brilliance. Meanwhile, the Spurs defy expectation by dramatically improving defensively in an up-tempo game, presumably because they manage to maintain floor balance even in the face of a helter-skelter environment.
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