Here is the scenario:
What do you do defensively?
On face value Scenario 2 seems riskier, if the opposition makes both free throws and you only make 1 or 2 foul shots in return then the opposition potentially have a chance to win if there is enough time on the clock.
As you will see below NBA teams rarely go with scenario 2, most teams are either confident in their defense getting a stop or can live with the game going to overtime. The numbers however show a different picture and the LA Clippers are using this strategy to help the odds of winning.
What the numbers* are telling us is that teams like the Clippers who choose to foul in this scenario have a 9.2% greater chance of winning vs relying on their defense to get a defensive stop or the opposition missing the 3 pointer.
It also shows that yes there is a risk that your team could lose by strategically fouling (4.2% chance of losing) but you also dramatically reduce the chance of the game going to overtime.
There is some obvious risk (small) in fouling but teams should take on that risk like the Clippers are doing as the odds of winning are increased by 9.2% which is sizeable.
*High level stats are based on past 3 years of NBA regular season games
*Thanks again to www.nbastuffer.com for providing the play by play data
*The play by play data shows it’s also important to burn as much game time as possible when in-bounding the ball, in choosing the fouling strategy, teams that choose to foul will subsequently have to shoot foul shots themselves and should work on getting players open as much as possible on inbound plays to prevent the defense from fouling straight away