After watching the then #25-ranked Michigan Wolverines barely edge an 0-3 Oakland team by 10 points in overtime, (winning largely because of the production from freshman center Hunter Dickinson in OT), I wondered what exactly went wrong, and why Michigan struggled so hard against them so badly, especially in the first half.
This sparked a question in my mind that seems pretty simple if you are a basketball fan like me, and that is the question: How to win a basketball game.
Now, I could go into the depths of offensive and defensive schemes of how to run certain sets and how to make a gameplan against a certain opponent, but quite honestly that’s not what I’m going to be doing.
If you ask most basketball fans how to win a game, they will likely say you have to score more points than the other team. How do you score more points than another team? You have to put the ball in the basket, and you have to stop the other team from doing so as well.
With that being said, here are the factors that need to be recognized to win a basketball game.
- Scoring the ball effectively
Field goal percentage is one of the basic, yet one of the most useful stats in the league. The top four teams in FG%, (Lakers, Pacers, Bucks, Nuggets), all made the playoffs fairly easily last season.
The reason that I’m using field goal percentage instead of points per game is that a missed shot (most often) leads to a possession for the other team, giving them a chance to score.
- Three pointers
Six out of the top seven teams in three-pointers made qualified for the playoffs, (Rockets, Mavericks, Raptors, Bucks, Heat, and the Jazz.)
Why are 3 pointers made more valuable than three point percentage? The answer is simple.
Rebounding. If you miss a three, the ball is likely to travel further after you miss the shot, giving the offense a better chance at grabbing the board. On top of that, if a defender did get the rebound, the shooter is already in a better defensive position than if he would be if he missed a layup/mid-range look.
What do the Bucks, Nets, Clippers, Mavericks, Celtics, Lakers, and 76ers have in common? They all made the playoffs, and are all top 10 in rebounding. If you can’t get a rebound, you can’t win a basketball game. Simple.
The Bucks, who had the best record in the league, led the league in rebounds at 51.7 per game, while the second-place Nets grabbed 47.9. The worst teams in the league in rebounding, (Pistons, Bulls, Wizards, Kings, Hornets) didn’t.
- Momentum & Energy
A super under-rated part of basketball is momentum. While there isn’t really a stat for this, (besides maybe scoring runs), a highlight play made by a team or consecutive buckets in a row can energize any team, and make them play better.
If you’re hyped up and more active, you are going to hustle more, and you are going to fight more, (not literal fighting, but you get the idea.) If you hustle and fight more, you’re going to make better plays wear the other team out, and the game will flow through.
- Defense wins championships. That’s the truth.
Defense. Like the last category, play it with hustle, play it with heart, try your hardest, have good footwork, and give up no open looks. The best thing you can do as a defense is to make the other team panic, as they will throw up bad shots, and turn the ball over, leading to rebounds and more possessions.
What do more possessions equal again? More opportunities to score, which leads to more points.
They say defense is the best offense, and while that can be argued, it sure helps a lot. To back up just how important defense is, the top 11 teams in the least points allowed all made the playoffs.
Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images