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In pace of play, most of NBA pulling away from Blazers

League-wide, teams on track to average most possessions since 1992-93

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: January 21, 2016, 6:22pm

TUALATIN, Ore. — The NBA’s treadmill has been cranked up a few notches.

The Portland Trail Blazers are running, but not as fast as the rest of the NBA. Through 45 games, the Blazers have increased their pace of play slightly, but are getting lapped by most of the league.

In the process, the Blazers are an interesting case study in how the league is rapidly changing

Last season, Portland averaged 94.2 possessions per game, which was good for 12th in the league according to Basketball-Reference.

And despite the slight uptick in pace, the Blazers have actually fallen back eight spots in the NBA’s pace rankings.

The Blazers have been forced into a more perimeter-oriented offense and they’ve essentially removed shots via post-ups. But the NBA as a whole is switching to a more wide-open passing-oriented game.

According to Basketball-Reference, the league-average pace in the 2015-16 season has gone up to 95.9 possessions per game.

If the current league average pace keeps up, it will be the fastest average pace of play in the NBA since the 1992-93 season.

“I like the way the league is going from an offensive standpoint,” Stotts said. “There’s a lot of movement, a lot of passing. San Antonio, Golden State, Dallas back when we won the championship. A lot of teams are having more success by opening up the court, opening up the game. I think that’s been a positive. ”

The success of the Warriors and Spurs both receive a great deal of credit for this shift in style of play.

But it’s no longer just the league’s elite that are ramping up the pace.

Teams like Philadelphia and Phoenix play at breakneck speeds despite being two of the worst five teams in the league.

And even though the Blazers have sped up their attack slightly, they’re still not one of the league’s fastest units.

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“The Warriors. San Antonio takes advantage in transition,” Meyers Leonard said. “Phoenix, Philadelphia as well. It’s very noticeable.”

Stotts was an assistant for the Seattle Supersonics of the early 90’s, the last time the league has seen overall pace even remotely close to what we’ve seen this season around the league.

“It really ground to a halt in the 90’s,” Stotts said. “It’s a been a steady increase over time.”

Making hay

The Portland Trail Blazers are trying to make hay while they can.

After Wednesday’s home loss to Atlanta, the Blazers practiced in Tualatin as they refocus on the six remaining games of their seven game home stand.

It begins with the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

“Obviously you play better at home,” head coach Terry Stotts said. “Most teams have better records at home than on the road. Hopefully we make a little hay during this stretch.”

The Blazers are 10-10 at home on the season and still have half of their home games left on their schedule.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer