One of the below-the-radar battles in any NBA game is the tug-of-war for pace of play. Rarely does it get spotlighted unless a team like the New York Knicks, operating under coach Mike D'Antoni's "seven seconds or less" offensive philosophy, meets a team like the Portland Trail Blazers that prefers each game be played at the speed of a muddy tractor pull.
The Boston Celtics rank in the bottom third of the NBA in pace this season, averaging 90.8 possessions per game, nearly two possessions fewer than the league average.
Now, don't be misled -- ranking in pace does not have any bearing on overall success. The fact that the 10-win Minnesota Timberwolves top the league in pace (96.9 possessions per game) this season is indicative of that.
But there is something to be said for establishing a comfortable pace under which your team thrives. Over the past four seasons, Boston's slower pace has been dictated by a defense that prefers to dig in and make opponents work for every open look, often using much of the 24-second clock.
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