Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

To foul or not to foul... the actual numbers

I found a really informative article on the internet about what we all were debating about last week after the Magic/MIL game... if a team that's ahead by 3 late in the game should foul the opposing team to prevent that team from taking a three pt shot. Here's the link to type in:


The numbers and percentages in this article may surprise you.

Another article I found was written by two gentlemen who have a combined 80 years basketball coaching/teaching experience that explains their view on what they think should be done in that situation. Here's the link to type in for that:


When you get to that site, click on "Clock Management and Fouling", and scroll down to "End of Game Strategy".


  • At 3:01 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Looking at the actual numbers that appeared in the first link, I can understand better now where Matt was coming from in his views advocating that a team that's ahead foul rather than letting the other team take a three pt shot.

    Judging from the stats given in this article, it's obvious that more coaches will simply defend a team trying to shoot a 3 pointer rather than fouling. But after reading this very informative article, maybe more coaches would go the route of fouling the opposition instead.

    In regards to the second link, their end-of-game strategy is that in that situation, the team that's ahead is better off not fouling and stopping the clock, that the clock is the team's ally, and shouldn't be stopped.

    Read these links, and based on the information given, you can come to your own conclusions.

  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Excellent work, Mike. As someone who teaches statistics at graduate level, I could crunch numbers in my head based on a conservative estimate. However, I neither have the time nor the patience to surf the net, as efficiently as you did. I appreciate you spending the time to shed some light on this issue.

  • At 4:29 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Just the 20% chances,say enough for me,and thats a league wide average,can you imagine if you take the top ten defensive clubs in the league,and show the statistics of three point shots made within the last 11 seconds against those teams,and that percentage would probably go down under 10%,what we should do is,take this team's ( the magic) defensive numbers after steve was traded,and put them up against the top ten in the league,to show how good of a defensive club (the magic) the bucks were trying to make a last second shot on?,that way we can conclude that if the %'s for fouling and not fouling are so close,why stop the clock?keeping the clock moving become's the only thing to seperate the two,fouling would stop the clock,and like mike said keeping the clock moving would make it your ally,i know what i would do!

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    The clock is your ally,do not stop it (unless in serious danger),says hoopstactics!

  • At 7:25 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Thanks for the kind words Matt. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to find two well-written articles that shed light on both points of view. I was especially impressed with the statistical numbers and percentages that were given in the first article.

    Big Figure brought out another interesting angle on this in regard to how the top 10 defensive teams in the league perform in this situation.

  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Clock is your ally is a valid statement, but these kind of general statements have no place in scientific research. No matter how you look at it the only number that we can rely on is the about 5% on fouling. We don't know what's the critical 3-point shooting number against top 10 defensive teams, and who's to say that drops to as low as 5% or thereabout. We also know that 5% is conditional on the 1st FT being made and the second FT with the intention to miss is successfully missed.

  • At 10:23 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    5% for fouling,or let's say 14-16% for not fouling,a coach would be fouling for only a 9-11% advantage(top ten teams are gonna be under 20 %),thats way to close to stop the clock in my opinion,the percentage is already so low at between about 10-20% that the odds are big time in your favor if you dont foul,(a 5% percent drop for the top ten teams shouldnt be too off))!

  • At 11:40 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Logically with the numbers SO LOW,"i" dont think anyone can suggest that either one would put a team in a bad situation,its a win win situation looking at the numbers we have,either way,what ever a specific coach decide's to do,now we know statistics are in his favor,not fouling would mean you have about an 80% chance or better that the opposing team will miss their shot(top ten defensive teams will be under 20%),that percentage is SO HIGH that i wouldnt stop the clock,"IMO" fouling would be like beating on a dead horse,the percentage of you winning is already so high,might as well let the clock run out! (a few extra percentage points,while extending the game,not worth the trouble!)my last post on this issue,b/c again its a win win!

  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Big Figure, it seems that you are trying to convince yourself on something that you want to believe, but the numbers don't lie. It's 5% (for fouling) vs. 20% (for not fouling), but yet again, we have given both making the 1st FT and missing the 2nd FT a 100% weight which is artificial. In another word, the percentage will go further down for fouling if the actual numbers on those factors are inserted. My friend, this matter is settled. Let's give it a rest.

  • At 2:46 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Matt,to say "convince yourself on something you want to believe"? and "the numbers dont lie"? what are you talkng about,i gave credit to both sides b/c obviously its a better than 80% chance that the opposing team wont score whatever you do,right? Read my post again,i basically ask the question(since its not worded that way ill do it now)do you think a team that choses to do either is in a bad situation? "THEN" i went on to say its a win win,"AND" 80% chances for not fouling,"AND" even better chances "for" fouling (beating a dead horse is how i put it),i dont have to convince myself of nothing,like i said before "i know what i would do" while stating both side of the equation,seems to me you were trying to debate something that wasnt even there,and by the way "MY LAST POST ON THIS ISSUE" means i'm resting on that issue!

  • At 3:27 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    My last post on this issue, as well. My answer based on the numbers to your question is a loud and clear yes to fouling as a better choice. Your understanding of numbers is way off. How could 5% (definitely less if actual numbers on made and missed FTs are inserted) and 20% be the same?

  • At 3:59 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    NO,your understanding of my position is off,my opinion is that fouling would extend the game,so me not wanting to stop the clock is why i wouldnt foul,exactly what the magic did in a "VICTORY",but to say my "understanding is off"? Tell me how so? B/c i'd take the 20% chances just like BSH,b/c whether you like what we did or not fact is we won the game,20% chances worked out fine (kukoc airball,ford miss),and "how could 5% and 20% be the same"?,you find where i said they were the "SAME" and i'll dignify your comment with a response,you seem to find "your own questions" within my statements,b/c no where in my post did i ask you if fouling was better than not fouling? but thats the question you answered so ill try again,do you think that if a coach choses to do either (5% or 20%) he's putting his team in a bad situation? My answer is no,b/c we didnt foul against the bucks and won (20%),and statistics say if we do foul (5%) the chances are even better we'll win,maybe your understanding is off,but mine is fine!

  • At 4:53 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    You don't make sense at all, and yet have the nerve to insult me by saying that you are dignifying my response? That's about as much I can take from this nonsense.

  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Oh,you feel insulted? But yet you didnt answer the question,no where did i say anything was the "same",i said these so-called numbers were close a few times,but never the same,so saying "my understanding of numbers is way off" was insulting to me,but i guess i dont make any since,its all good!


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