Things Grant Napear Actually Said

During the second quarter, Grant Napear said this following a well-executed Pacers fast break:

The Pacers have 10 more field goal attempts than Sacramento because of the pace they play at.

No. This is not how basketball works.

Two teams will typically have the same number of possessions in a game, with minor discrepancies for end-of-quarter possessions. This is due to the basic rules of basketball. On the playground, it's known as "loser outs." When a team scores, the other team gets the ball. Possessions are traded. Team A (Sacramento) gets a possession. Successful or not, Team B (Indiana) gets the next possession. You do not get a possession surplus by playing a faster style. If you push the ball, you will get more possessions ... and so will your opponent.

You can, of course, get a field goal attempt surplus, as Indiana did in the first half. But field goal attempts are but one result of a possession. Possessions can end with a turnover, a made FG, a defensive rebound or a made FT. So one way in which you can get more field goal attempts than your counterpart is to force turnovers -- in this instance, your opponent does not get a FGA. Or, you can get offensive rebound: in this case, you have the opportunity to get multiple FGAs in a single possession. Finally, if the other team draws fouls and gets to the line, they will have fewer FGAs in the box score, but (as always) a roughly equal number of possessions.

Indiana did not get a FGA surplus because it pushed the pace. Indiana gained a FGA surplus because Sacramento turned the ball over repeatedly, because the Pacers earned several offensive rebounds and because Kevin Martin drew fouls. Indiana's pace surely helped the Pacers score more efficiently -- or, to score more points per possession on average -- because Sacramento's transition defense is simply awful. But running will not allow you to take more FGAs than your opponent. Basketball does not work that way, and I would imagine someone who has worked in the game almost 20 years could have figured that out at some point.

(I only make an example of this because basketball miseducation worries me. Napear has a huge audience 82 times a year.)

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