2023 Boston Celtics: Who Needs Defense?

If there was any doubt in the NBA that offense has become far more valuable than defense, the Boston Celtics stand as the poster children for that belief. They’re first in the league with a you-gotta-be-kidding-me 121.6 Offensive Rating. Their Defensive Rating stands below league average, 17th at 113.1. But who cares if your defense is mediocre if you’ve got an 8.5 Net Rating and a 17-4 record, both best in the league? And who cares about defense when you’ve topped the previous record for offensive efficiency by over three points per 100 possessions? Let’s have a look inside both …

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Are the 10-6 Indiana Pacers For Real?

The 2022 Indiana Pacers were a legitimate disaster, their 25-57 record the worst the franchise had posted since 1985. Through games of November 21, the 2023 Pacers stand 10-6, fourth in the East, on pace to win 51 games and storm back into the playoffs after a two-year absence. What’s more, this has been a redemption of sorts for coach Rick Carlisle. Carlisle faced accusations that maybe he just didn’t have “it” as an NBA coach anymore. After all, Carlisle’s teams in Dallas hadn’t won a playoff series since winning the title in 2011. Dallas missed the playoffs four times. …

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The 2023 Portland Trail Blazers: Overrated?

Through games of November 11, the Portland Trail Blazers are 9-3, second in the Western Conference behind only the 10-3 Utah Jazz. They’ve beaten the 8-4 Phoenix Suns twice. The team has the fifth-best defense in the league powering their early surge. But on the other hand, the Washington Wizards started last year 10-3 and fell off a cliff. Washington, whose advanced stats didn’t present as a 10-3 team, ended up dropping all the way to 35-47 and landed 12th in the East. Portland’s advanced stats look awfully similar at this point in the season. So are they headed off …

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The Broken Nets Are Back in 2023

The Broken Nets…er, Brooklyn Nets…are well on their way to barfing out another Dumpster fire of a season. At 3-6, no matter what that 128-86 demolition of the Washington Wizards may try and tell you, they’re cooked. Kyrie Irving is suspended indefinitely for graduating from Idiot School summa cum laude. Ben Simmons continues to fear 3-pointers the way small children fear monsters under the bed. And while Kevin Durant is off to a fantastic start (32.0 ppg, .522 FG%, .196 WS/48), you know he’s going to get hurt again. It’s just a question of when and what body part. The …

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The 2023 Houston Rockets: Hilariously Bad

The 2023 Houston Rockets remind me of one of those so-bad-it’s-good movies from the 1980s. Think movies like Road House and Over the Top. In other words, movies whose very premise is laughable but they’re wildly entertaining. The identity of this franchise throughout Daryl Morey’s tenure as GM was modern, 3s-and-layups basketball. But with Morey in Philadelphia and former coach Mike D’Antoni in the NBA wilderness, Houston has gone through one of the weirdest and frankly funniest regressions ever seen on a basketball court. Last year, they were the poster children for “when 3s-and-layups goes wrong.” They were fourth in …

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A Look Back at the 2015 NBA Draft Class

On this day, October 27, in 2015, Pace and Space first launched on our old webhost. It was opening night of the 2015 NBA season, and the rookies from that season led to this site’s first Twitter beef. That’s right, Matt Moore of CBS Sports blocked me when I said Emmanuel Mudiay couldn’t shoot a lick and would wash out of the league, contra his opinion. Mudiay is out of the league now. In 306 NBA games, he posted minus-0.2 career Win Shares and an execrable .446 eFG%, making him absolutely the worst pick in the 2015 lottery. The moral …

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Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats (2022-23 Edition!)

(Ed. note: yeah, I know this is a day late. Illness on the weekend is no fun.) Through games of October 23, 28 teams in the NBA have played three games. Milwaukee and Dallas have each played two. And with such a small sample size, we see some strange stats. The Law of Averages hasn’t taken over yet. So let’s take a look at unlikely and unsustainable and downright absurd stats. We’ll compare them to the NBA record book while we’re at it. That’s right. It’s the Fourth Annual Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats. The Unbeatens Boston, …

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The Washington Wizards Worst Season: 2009

The Washington Wizards have been consistently pretty bad since their glory days in the 1970s. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Wizards were bad even by their own low standards. Twice in the aughts, the Wiz went 19-63. Their first lost season came in 2001, the nadir so bad that it prompted Michael Jordan to give up on being an executive for a couple of years and instead try a comeback. But 2009 is a special kind of dreadful. Indeed, the record tells only a small part of the story. The rest of the story is told …

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The Utah Jazz Worst Season: 1980

The Utah Jazz, stretching back to their founding in New Orleans in 1974, have on occasion been bad. But as franchises go, since the team finally figured it out in 1984 and had their first winning season, Utah’s been incredibly successful. Indeed, the worst season the team’s put up in Salt Lake City still featured 24 wins. The worst season they posted in New Orleans was 23-59. And that was their expansion 1974-75 campaign. Let’s look at what “not really that bad” looks like. That 24-58 season in 1980 deserves a deep dive. The On-Court Record Utah started out awful. …

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The Toronto Raptors Worst Season: 1998

The Toronto Raptors suffered a season of hilarious badness in their third year in existence. And no, they didn’t draft a guy named Hilarious Badness. Although that would be a great name if Key and Peele ever do a revival of their East-West College Bowl sketch. The badness in question has everything you love in a bad season. Massive losing streaks. Net Ratings that would be the worst in the league in any year except the one you’re discussing. A great reward in the next year’s draft. Coaches who saw their careers derailed. So let’s not waste any time. While …

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