Earlier today, hoops fiend Henry Abbott asked:
“How many lead changes, buzzer beaters, and scores in the final minute happen in every major sport, including soccer? Basketball kills everybody at this stuff, and this stuff is fantastic.”
Well, we were curious too, so we did an quick informal survey of every game in the NBA, NFL, and NHL so far this season. Here’s what we found. (Yes, we know. Small sample size. humour us. And sorry, but no soccer.)
- 106 total games
- 16 games had at least one lead change in the final minute
- 8 went to overtime
- 126 total games
- 15 had a lead change in the final minute
- 10 went to overtime
- 203 total games
- 7 had a lead change in the final minute
- 42 went to overtime
- 16 ended in a shootout
Conclusions? (Feel free to check our maths, too.)
Well, the NBA and NFL are remarkably similar when it comes to producing nail-biting games. However, while a typical NBA game can have several lead changes AND a buzzer beater in the same final minute, most late NFL scores are field goals, kicked after multiple, soul-draining timeouts.
Meanwhile, the NHL almost never sees a last-second deciding goal, but … hockey has a remarkable number of tie games that feature an extra period. And more than half of those end with a sudden death goal, arguably the most exciting moment a sports game can create. (For what it’s worth, last season, more 60% of games went to shootouts, so that’s a recent development.)
We don’t have the baseball numbers for 2010 yet, but there was only one walkoff win in the postseason this year.
You can argue about what type of finish is better — though desperation threes are nice, it’s tough to beat the tension of a tied hockey game in the third period — but it seems that basketball doesn’t necessarily produce more exciting endings than any other sports.
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