Posted by Neil Paine on September 25, 2009
At TrueHoop today, Henry gave a nice rundown of the evidence on both sides of the age-old coaching debate abut whether or not to intentionally foul when leading by 3 points in the final seconds of a game, and presented some new research as well, conducted by Mavs advisor Wayne Winston:
In his new book "Mathletics," Wayne Winston -- Indiana University professor and consultant to the Dallas Mavericks -- tackles this issue, and offers some new data. First, he faults two of the main studies on the topic, by Lawhorn and Annis, for failing to account for the many different ways games can unfold. Neither, he says, embraces the idea that a game has an unknowable number of possessions left.Then Winston does something delightfully simple. He asks: Has it worked? He presents, for the first time I'm aware, the evidence:
"A student in my sports and math class, Kevin Klocke, looked at all NBA games from 2005 through 2008 in which a team had the ball with 1-10 seconds left and trailed by three points. The leading team did not foul 260 times and won 91.9% of the games. The leading team did foul 27 times and won 88.9% of the games. This seems to indicate that fouling does not significantly increase a team's chances of winning when they are three points ahead."
But perhaps David Thorpe had the best approach: "I would not have a hard and fast rule," he explained. "I'd have a fluid game to game strategy."