The Shot That Mattered Most?

The emphasis on the last shot in basketball seems irrational to me:

"James missed 20 of his 38 field goal attempts... James, however, didn't make the shot that mattered most."

The score was tied at the end of regulation, and the shot James missed then would have won the game.

But, of course, ceteris paribus, so would his making any of his other misses in regulation have won the game as well, since the Cavs would have been up two or three at the end of the game, and not tied. (Of course, the Warriors might have played differently had they been down!) The focus on the last shot seems to me to be an instance of availability bias.


  1. This sort of nonsense pervades sports. It is an example of confusing emotional intensity with importance.

  2. Heck, the earlier shots might matter more, if they affected the other team's morale. The game-ending buzzer-beater shot has a lot of emotional impact, but that happens exclusively after the game is over.


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