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Friday, March 25th, 2022

Is it possible to be consistently good at transition defense? We answer that as a mailbag question in today's newsletter.

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

In today's newsletter:

  • Mailbag question (the randomness of transition defense).
  • Details on tonight's game.
  • Link roundup.


"I hear a lot about how bad the Sixers are bad at transition defense, I’m wondering have their been any teams who were consistently GOOD at transition defense? Without any evidence to the contrary, transition D seems like a mostly random outcome thing at the other end and reminds me bullpens in baseball. Year to year, most teams run the gamut on results. Am I totally wrong about this?" – Brian

Part of the difficulty in talking about transition defense is that it's tough to accurately measure, as a lot of the stats that we use to talk about it are influenced by the rest of the game. The most glaring example is turnovers: on average, a live ball turnover results in a transition opportunity 62.6% of the time, according to CleaningTheGlass, and teams average 139.4 points per 100 plays on these opportunities. The best transition defense isn't defense at all: it's not turning the ball over in the first place.

The second aspect which makes it tough to talk about is a lot of the stats we typically use to measure defense in general (points allowed, field goal percentage, etc) aren't really the goal in building a good transition defense. Even the best transition defense in the league (Milwaukee, allowing 115.3 points per 100 plays) gives up significantly more than the worst half-court defense (Portland, 100.6). The goal is, without question, to prevent the other team from getting a shot up in transition.

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