How the Warriors Laughed in the Face of Our Win Probability Chart in Game 3 Against the Pelicans
The Golden State Warriors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 123-119 in overtime in Game 3 of their first-round series on Thursday night, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead.
The result is pretty much what anyone would've expected, based on how special the Warriors have been this season, but how they got there was next-level special. We're talking straight out of a movie special.
Heading into the fourth quarter, New Orleans was up 89-69, seemingly on the way to their first playoff win since changing their name to the Pelicans. The 2014-15 Golden State Warriors, however, have been a historic team this season, and they had something different to say about what most people were beginning to call an inevitable outcome. Their names are all over the record books in several places already this season, and now they've added a 20-point comeback victory in a playoff game to their legend.
Of course, what would a dramatic Golden State comeback be without a punctuation from this year's probable MVP, Stephen Curry?
The Pelicans took a 108-105 lead with 9.6 seconds left in regulation on two Anthony Davis free throws, setting up the chance for Golden State to tie the game with a last-second three.
After clanking the first attempt, Curry got the ball back in the corner off of a Marreese Speights offensive rebound. What he did with it next will probably qualify as the shot of the season and maybe even the shot of the last decade.
With that miracle heave, the game was tied 108-108 and ultimately went into overtime, where the Warriors were able to prevail with the win. Apart from a dramatic comeback and a thrilling final shot in regulation, there were several box score lines that only further make the case for this game as an instant classic.
Curry finished with 40 points, 7 triples, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists. Klay Thompson tossed in 28 points and 6 triples of his own, while Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 17 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals, and a block.
Meanwhile, on the other end, Davis put up a monster 29-point, 15-rebound, 3-assist, 2-steal, 3-block line, while Ryan Anderson did his best Dirk Nowitzki impression off the bench, hitting a variety of tricky shots (including the scattered one-legger à la Dirk) for 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting.
But it won't be the stat sheet that people remember from this one. It'll be that Curry shot that pushed it to overtime and the absolute madness that preceded it.
For an idea of just how wild and unlikely this win was, check out our win probability chart from last night:
Let me break that down for you a bit.
With 7:24 to go in the fourth, up 17 points, New Orleans had a 94.25% chance to win the game. Golden State cut it to 15 with 5:09 to go in regulation, and New Orleans still had a 94.38% chance at getting the W. The Warriors made it even more interesting by reducing the lead to 10 With 3:12 to go in the fourth, but the Pelicans maintained a 92.49% chance of winning the game.
Now, this is where things get crazy. With 49 seconds to go in the fourth, up four points, New Orleans still had a bankable 95.03% chance to win the game. Once it got down to 17 seconds and New Orleans was still up five? A near certain 98.23% chance to win.
Even when Golden State took the ball out of bounds with 9.6 seconds remaining and with a mere three-point deficit, New Orleans still had a 93.48% chance of making the series 2-1.
Too bad for the Pelicans, Steph Curry defies all odds and math in general. With 2.8 seconds left in regulation, he increased the Warriors chances of winning the game by a whopping 43.48% (to an even 50% heading into overtime). All it took was one near-impossible shot over half the Pelicans' roster (including a near-lock for First Team All-Defensive this year in Anthony Davis).
The Warriors went on to win in overtime and now hold a 98.87% chance of winning the series and increased their already ridiculous title odds to 45.63% (far and away the best in the league, trailed most closely by the 11.93% of the Atlanta Hawks).
So, the question is this: if this year's Warriors team can overcome a 1.77% chance of winning a basketball game, how likely is it starting to look that they can beat the field for a title with their odds to do so nearing 50%?
Nothing's a given, of course, but one thing is becoming abundantly clear: the Warriors don't give a damn about our odds anyway.