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The NBA offensive explosion is unstoppable

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The league is in the midst of a glorious offensive revolution, with a legion of shooters with the added gasoline of small ball and nurturing rule changes that prevent old-school defensive tactics. The result: Scoring has gone nuclear.

Consider that between 2014 and ’16, teams crested the 140-point barrier in regulation a total of three times. In the past two NBA seasons, as the frenzy started ramping up, teams reached 140 points eight times each year. In the first month of this season, it has happened six times, and there’s no end in sight.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Frankly, it’s fantastic for the entertainment value of the game. There aren’t a lot of complaints from the fans. The phrase “defense wins championships” has never been so out of style. Last summer, moments after signing a $20 million-per-year contract, Jabari Parker declared “they don’t pay players to play defense” without the slightest hint of shame.3

This revolution has left the NBA’s defensive intelligencia to retreat to icy caves, like the rebels in Star Wars, to ponder just what the hell they can do about it. The team that figures out how to defend modern offenses could own the future. But the volume of shooting plus the freedom of movement rules referees have been instructed to enforce this season has created a perfect storm.

In the post Michael Jordan era between 2003-05, multiple Finals games saw teams fail to break 70 points as TV ratings plunged. The elders responded by outlawing hand-checking — the Spurs and Detroit Pistons made the lane look like a football line of scrimmage at times — and the game opened up for drivers. In the first year of the rule changes, Allen Iverson led the NBA in free throws made and won the scoring title. The next year, Kobe Bryant went to the foul line 819 times and averaged 35.4 points a game, which still stands as the modern record.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

To combat this rule change that made on-ball defense much harder, defenses started employing a tactic called “shrink the floor,” which called for defenders to collapse into the lane to offer help and try to force drivers into the helpers. It turned out the Spurs were the best at that, too.

And here’s where we had the pivot point. First with Mike D’Antoni running his “seven seconds or less” attack, then with coaches such as Erik Spoelstra studying Chip Kelly’s spread offense at the University of Oregon and developing a “pace and space” system, and finally with coaches such as Mike Budenholzer installing high-volume passing offenses that disorganized defensive movement. “Shrink the floor” had been defeated by “stretch the floor,” as first we heard of “stretch 4s” and — cue the ominous music — “stretch 5s.”

It has been all downhill for the defenses since. The antidote, as Popovich said, is for teams to encourage their defenders to switch on screens in an often fruitless attempt to save time under the relentless speed. It has driven many big men right off the floor and even out of the league. Scouts have been hunting for “switchy” big men in college and Europe. Wings are massively in demand.

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