Title: Raptors go small to come back against Nets, can’t find the right balance in OT loss
Date: December 7, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ going small to try to comeback against the Nets and the difficult accounting that decision requires game-to-game.
One way regression clearly does not work: A team shooting well underneath its true-talent level behind the 3-point line explodes for a hot shooting night that corrects the numbers. The Toronto Raptors, a true-talent shooting team to the tune of about 36 percent from long-range, entered Friday’s game hitting just 34.4 percent. They shot 11 of 35, good for 31.4 percent, continuing their minor woes from outside.
Another way regression does not necessarily work but looked maybe like it did this time: A team performing well below their overall standard late in close games will eventually get breaks that correct their overall performance. The Brooklyn Nets, owners of a -2.7 net rating overall, owned a -23.4 net rating in the clutch entering play, posting a 4-12 record in those games. Here, they lose 10 clutch minutes by 4 points but hang on for a 106-105 overtime victory.
Believing either of these “evening out” factors would have been at play here is what’s known as the gambler’s fallacy. Each game is a largely independent event for which the prior games have no tangible impact, save for things like tweaks in the lineup or strategic choices. Each 3-point shot is not completely independent of the other given talent, spacing, lineups and defence, but it is close enough to being independent. The Raptors are expected to shoot at something close to their true-talent level from here, not their true-talent level plus a bonus for under-performing. The Nets are expected to be roughly a normal-functioning close-out team.