Hornets Sting in the Full Court, Kill in the Half Court

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Published: May 7, 2008

First I want to address a pet peeve of mine.  During Game 2 Reggie Miller said that the Hornets "can't win a slow down game" and the Spurs "can't win a speed up game".  Now normally, I'd let that slide because Reggie Miller comes straight out of the "Latter Day John Madden Church of Spouting Obvious, Stupid, or Inaccurate Observations".  However, I've read about a dozen articles now after games 1 and 2 against the Spurs that have claimed the Hornets are too fast and are running the Spurs, who have been unable to get the Hornets to settle into a half-court game.

Let's get it straight right now.  The Hornets are a slow team, and they are absolutely deadly in the half-court.  Right now the Hornets are averaging a Pace of 88.4 posessions per game in the post-season, the slowest pace of any team left in the playoffs.  Slower than deliberate Detroit, slower than ancient San Antonio, slower than plodding Cleveland. 

Obviously, the Hornets aren't bad at a half-court game – they have gone 6-1 so far playing at that speed, but once again I'm going to point out just how great the Hornets have been in this post-season.  The Hornets defense, despite being tested by Dallas's top 10 offense and San Antonio's 13th ranked one, hasn't changed at all.  All season they allowed 102.9 points per 100 posessions.  In the playoffs, against superior teams, they are allowing 102.8 per 100 posessions.  That's great, but what they are doing offensively is simply amazing.  Facing the 8th best defense in the league with Dallas, and the 3rd best Defense in the league in San Antonio, the Hornets are producing 115.7 points per 100 posessions.  That's 6.7 points better than the regular season.  That 5 points better than the best offense during the regular season.  What's more, only two teams in the playoffs have actually improved their offense – all the rest are having a harder time of it and have declined.

Those two teams?  The Hornets . . . and the Lakers.(improved by 2.5 points per 100)  MVP battle indeed.

As Ron said earlier, it appears the Hornets are getting hot at just the right time.

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