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Layups: Classic Articles About Underdogs and Pace

Posted by Neil Paine on December 12, 2008

Here are a couple of old posts by Dean Oliver, father of APBRmetrics, about controlling the pace of the game. Underdogs can maximize their chances of winning by slowing the tempo down to a halt, because the fewer possessions there are in a game, the greater the variance in both teams' offensive efficiencies (and thus the greater the chance for an upset). The 2nd article even comes with a handy calculator, though you'll have to think back to 1997 and remember that, unlike today, Bulls = good and Cavaliers = bad.

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One Response to “Layups: Classic Articles About Underdogs and Pace”

  1. Mountain Says:

    Underdogs should want to play slow in general to have the most chance that favorable play would be enough to beat the favorite at the time the clock runs out. Then I wondered why so many good teams play slow. Well of course they play slow because they play good defense forcing the other time to use a larger share of the shot clock looking for a good shot and by being methodical on offense too. But I think they also play slow because if they can get a nice lead early then it makes sense for them to play slow and protect that lead from extra chances to reduce it. Dean and others have presented calculators for odds of winning based on lead of certain size and time on clock. The bigger the lead, the shorter the time, the better the chance of victory. So I assume a slower pace is in the same vein as shorter time and to the advantage of the team in the lead. Conversely an underdog who slipped well behind- at some point-, probably in second half- may benefit from playing faster I'd think but am not sure if these two tools and considerations need to be blended instead of just swapped for each other.