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Clippings: Why the Clippers should be pushing the pace

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It’s been a point of contention for Ty Lue all season.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Clippers’ offensive efficiency of 118.6 points per 100 possessions is higher than any other previous team’s offense in NBA history. (Two current teams score at a more efficient rate). But LA’s points per game ranks 10th, even fewer than last season, because their pace is so slow, 24th in the league.

A slow pace isn’t a problem in and of itself. The game generally slows down during the postseason, so the Clippers are better suited for that style of play if they’re already methodical during the regular season. For reference, during the 2019-20 regular season, 14.7 percent of offensive possessions were in transition, and that figure dropped to 12.8 percent during the playoffs.

The real problem is that the Clippers aren’t getting enough easy baskets, especially when the possessions get longer. Their percentage of threes relative to twos increases the later they get in the shot clock, so the more time they spend getting into their offense, the more likely they’ll settle for jump shots instead of getting closer to the basket.

Ty Lue constantly preaches that the coaching staff wants the team to play faster, not necessarily taking quick shots, but at least getting into the sets sooner would give the Clippers an opportunity to run multiple actions if the first one comes up short. Unfortunately, pushing the pace requires a real mental adjustment for this particular group of players.

“Reggie pushes the pace for us, but I think we just, as a team, I’m not much of a fast-paced player,” Paul George said after Wednesday’s game. “Kawhi’s not much of a fast-paced player, so it’s something that together, we gotta make up, but we just don’t have that, as a team, in our DNA right now.”

Is that something the Clippers can change, either via habit or by adding a player at the trade deadline? We’ll see soon enough.

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