Handicapping NBA totals without using offensive pace is like trying to build a shed with just a glue gun – you’re missing a few important tools there bub.
Offensive pace, a stat made famous by former ESPN NBA analyst and current Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies John Hollinger, is the average number of possessions a team has per game.
For NBA total bettors, possessions mean points and points are the name of the game capping the over/under. Here’s a look at the three teams with the highest offensive pace and the three with the lowest, and how books are dealing with those teams’ totals.
Stats prior to action on Sunday, Jan. 12
Fastest offensive pace
Houston Rockets - 99.3 (22-16 over/under)
Houston has rocket fuel in their Nike’s with James Harden and Jeremy Lin headline a high-octane backcourt. The Rockets are second in the league in scoring (105.4) but have also given up a ton of points, allowing 103.3 ppg – 28th in the league. That’s an old fashion recipe for overs.
Los Angeles Lakers – 97.5 (19-16-1 over/under)
The Lakers pace is averaging 103.1 points, with a push from offensively-minded head coach Mike D’Antoni. With Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard on the shelf, L.A.’s has gone to a smaller, quicker lineup which could see its possession go up even further.
San Antonio Spurs/Denver Nuggets – 96.8 (19-20-0 over/under / 19-19-0 over/under)
The Spurs inclusion to this list may be a surprise to some, what with their aging core of superstars. San Antonio is making the most of all those possessions, averaging 104.8 points on 48.3 percent shooting a night – fourth best in the NBA. Denver is cut from a similar cloth, scoring 102 points on 46.4 percent shooting – fifth in the league.
Slowest offensive pace
New Orleans Hornets – 90.2 (18-18-0 over/under)
The Hornets only average 92 points a night but have seen a slight boost in scoring since the return of guard Eric Gordon. However, books may have adjusted a little too much for Gordon’s return. New Orleans slow-motion pace has gone 3-4 over/under in those games.
Brooklyn Nets – 90.4 (15-20-1 over/under)
The offensive pace has picked up since the Nets canned Avery Johnson and handed the keys to P.J. Carlesimo. In the eight games since the coaching change, Brooklyn is averaging more than 102 points per game, posting a 5-3 over/under count. On the year, the Nets average just 96.2 points.
Indiana Pacers – 92.4 (13-23-1 over/under)
No team has a more misleading nickname than the Pacers. Indiana’s pace isn’t anywhere near Indy 500 speeds, making it one of the best under plays in the NBA. The Pacers are among the bottom dwellers in scoring (91.1) and haven’t been able to make up for the loss of Danny Granger, who won’t be back until February – maybe.