The Boston Celtics' Game 4 Comeback Was Highly Improbable
Playoff basketball brings out the best in players and often leads to wild finishes. That is exactly what we had in Boston Sunday night.
With 7:31 to go in the third quarter, the Boston Celtics' win probability against the Atlanta Hawks, according to numberFire Live, dropped to a game-low at 8.99%.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas then converted on an and-one to cut the deficit to just 13 points.
The comeback had officially begun.
By the end of the third quarter, Atlanta's lead had dwindled to just three points, and the TD Garden was rocking.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, shooting guard Marcus Smart nailed a pair of threes, which increased Boston's win probability by 11.6 percent and then 12.5 percent
The triples put the Celtics in the driver's seat with an over 50 percent win probability for the first time in over 20 minutes of game play.
Smart quickly answered the criticisms from Reggie Miller.
Fast forward to the last minute of regulation, and Hawks point guard Jeff Teague drained himself a pair of triples as well, the second of which gave the Hawks a two-point lead with just 20 seconds remaining.
Teague's three gave Atlanta a 77.3 percent chance to win the game and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series over Boston.
However, Thomas quickly answered to tie the game just seconds later.
With plenty of time on the clock, the Hawks had a chance to win at the buzzer. Unfortunately for them, the play was an absolute disaster.
Hawks final play of regulation in a tie game 😖 pic.twitter.com/wHfiN1LsM9
— Dime Magazine (@DimeMag) April 25, 2016
To overtime we go, where Boston got up early and remained in control, for the most part.
Hawks shooting guard Kent Bazemore hit a three to take the lead with just under two minutes left. However, after review, the shot appeared to be too late, and it was overturned because of a shot-clock violation. The made three to a turnover resulted in a 23.4 percent swing in win probability.
To cap it all off, Thomas came through with a dagger three in the corner.
The game was certainly fun, but just how important was it?
According to WhoWins.com, teams that take a 3-1 series lead are 220-9 -- which is a 96.1 win percentage.
Boston would have been in an extremely bad spot as they traveled to Atlanta to keep their season alive. Instead, they were able to even the series in dramatic fashion.
The Celtics had to overcame one of the best individual performances in this year's playoffs as Paul Millsap went off for 45 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. Millsap dominated the entire game but wasn't enough for the Hawks. He shot 19 for 31 (61 percent) while the rest of the Hawks combined for 18 for 69 (26 percent).
In a year with multiple tame playoff games, this match-up brought the craziness that we all know and love. Boston had just a nine percent chance to, essentially, keep their season alive, and they did just that.
According to our algorithm, the Celtics have a 45% chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.