Let’s take one more walk on the high wire.
Forget about games decided by five points or fewer — let’s offer an even more specific examination of NBA teams and their results this season.
Below, you’ll find records in overtime games and games decided by no more than two points.
Why two, you might (reasonably) ask, instead of three? They’re both one-score margins. Very simply, a two-point margin involves an immediate risk of losing if the other team has the last possession. Conversely, it involves the possibility of winning if you have the rock for the final shot of regulation. A three-point margin merely involves the possibility of being taken into overtime or forcing overtime with a tying triple.
You’re free to use three points as your preferred standard, or five, or perhaps four. In this piece, we’re using two points plus any overtime game. OT games are considered separate from the two-point games, even if they were decided by one or two points — 48 regulation minutes produced a tie, so the subsequent OT margin seems insignificant by comparison.
Let’s go to the big board and get the numbers, starting with records in two-point games and then in overtime contests:
ATLANTA: 2-4 in 2-point games (again, not including OT), 0-5 in OT.
Just one win in an overtime game would have given the Hawks the third seed in the East.
BOSTON: 3-3 in 2-point games, 1-2 in OT
BROOKLYN: 3-3 (2-P), 1-2 OT
CHARLOTTE: 2-2, 5-0
The Hornets’ portrait of overachievement is definitely affirmed by their overtime record.
CHICAGO: 5-2, 2-4
This is one of several counterintuitive records: the Bulls won five of seven non-overtime games decided by no more than two points.
CLEVELAND: 2-3, 3-3
DALLAS: 3-2, 8-4
No team played (12) or won (8) more overtime games than the overachieving Mavericks this season.
DENVER: 4-2, 2-4
DETROIT: 2-3, 4-1
GOLDEN STATE: 1-1, 6-1
A big part of winning 73 games was the impressive overtime mark. Only the young Timberwolves beat the Warriors in an extra period this season.
HOUSTON: 3-4, 4-2
INDIANA: 3-5, 1-7
If Indiana had gone 7-1 instead of 1-7 in overtime games, the Pacers would have been the third seed in the East. As things stand, they’re the 7 seed heading into the playoffs.
L.A. CLIPPERS: 5-2, 5-1
L.A. LAKERS: 0-4, 1-1
MEMPHIS: 6-2, 3-3
That 6-2 mark mattered for Memphis this season.
MIAMI: 2-1, 3-3
MILWAUKEE: 3-2, 4-0
Overtime perfection meant little for the Bucks.
MINNESOTA: 4-0, 4-3
For a young team, these records represent a curveball.
NEW ORLEANS: 4-3, 1-3
NEW YORK: 2-5, 2-2
OKLAHOMA CITY: 2-2, 3-2
ORLANDO: 2-3, 3-5
PHILADELPHIA: 0-2, 0-3
The Sixers didn’t lose many close games… because they usually lost by large margins.
PHOENIX: 1-1, 0-1
These are the lowest totals of any team in the league this season.
PORTLAND: 0-6, 2-3
The Blazers got the 5 seed in the West in spite of these close-game records.
SACRAMENTO: 5-0, 0-3
The Kings missed the playoffs by a large margin despite that glowing 5-0 record in non-OT games decided by no more than two points.
SAN ANTONIO: 3-0, 1-0
TORONTO: 3-4, 3-1
UTAH: 2-5, 5-5
The 10 losses in close regulation games or any overtime games certainly harmed the Jazz. Flipping just one would have meant a playoff berth; flipping four outcomes would have translated into a multi-seed gain for Utah.
WASHINGTON: 2-4, 0-2