How a Weekend of Buzzer-Beating Game Winners Changed the Trajectory of the 2015 NBA Playoffs
This past weekend will forever be remembered as the weekend of buzzer-beating game winners. There were three -- count 'em, three -- games that were decided by a shot going down as the final buzzer of the fourth quarter sounded.
On Friday, Derrick Rose banked in a miracle three-pointer from way outside to give his Chicago Bulls a 99-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 and a 2-1 series lead.
On Saturday, Paul Pierce was up to his old tricks, banking in a fadeaway two over two defenders to give the under-seeded Washington Wizards a 103-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks and a 2-1 series lead.
Then, on Sunday, LeBron James flexed his clutch muscles and got revenge for Rose's Game 3 buzzer beater by nailing one of his own at the end of Game 4, giving the Cavaliers an 86-84 victory and evening up their seven-game series 2-2.
If any of those shots had clanked out, the respective game would've gone to overtime, where either team could've come out on top. The fact is, however, that all three shots went down and Rose, Pierce, and LeBron all secured crucial wins for their teams.
Just how crucial, you ask?
Well, after each game, we use our algorithms to project the remainder of the playoffs, using a combination of historical situational data as well as team and player data collected throughout the regular season and playoffs. Here's a look at each individual game-winning shot, the resulting projections for each team involved, and just how the projections would've changed if the shot hadn't gone down and the other team had ultimately won the game.
One thing is for certain in looking at each individual swing in projections:
One shot can make a huge difference, even if you don't call "bank."