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Mike D’Antoni, are the Rockets playing faster? ‘Six seconds or less, baby’

Milwaukee Bucks v Houston Rockets

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets dunks the ball defended by Ersan Ilyasova #7 of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half at Toyota Center on October 24, 2019 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

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In their season-opening loss to the Bucks, the Houston Rockets had 109 possessions, more than 10 possessions a game faster than they averaged last season (stats via NBA.com). It’s not just Russell Westbrook grabbing a rebound and pushing the ball out in transition (although that’s part of it), it’s also working early in the shot clock — just 14 percent the Rockets offense was in transition, which is right where Houston was last season (stats via Cleaning The Glass). The Rockets were just a little more efficient when then ran on Thursday.

Chris Paul, a guy who wants to slow the game down and survey the floor, is in Oklahoma City now, and the Rockets are running. You know Mike D’Antoni loves that, as he told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Obviously, that’s a reference to the “seven seconds or less” Suns of D’Antoni and Steve Nash.

These Rockets will actually be faster than those Suns because the entire league is playing faster now (D’Antoni and those Suns revolutionized the game, but the pace they played at would have been the slowest in the league last season because they were the only team trying to run like that).

Can they win playing faster is another question. The Rockets are going to score points, as we saw against the Bucks, but can they get stops will be the big question. In crunch time opening night, with Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out, Houston still didn’t defend well enough, or score well enough, to get the win. There’s work to do, no matter how many seconds it takes to get off a shot.