PLoS One. 2022 Aug 19;17(8):e0273427. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273427. eCollection 2022.
The purpose of the present study was to examine differences in game-related statistical parameters between National Basketball Association (NBA) regular and post-season competitive periods and to determine which variables have the greatest contribution in discriminating between winning and losing game outcomes. The data scraping technique was used to obtain publicly available NBA game-related statistics over a three-year span (2016-2019). The total number of games examined in the present investigation was 3933 (3690 regular season and 243 post-season games). Despite small to moderate effect sizes, the findings suggest that NBA teams’ style of play (i.e., tactical strategies) changes when transitioning from the regular to post-season competitive period. It becomes more conservative (i.e., fewer field goal attempts, assists, steals, turnovers, and points scored), most likely due to greater defensive pressure. Discriminant function analysis correctly classified winning and losing game outcomes during the regular and post-season competitive periods in 82.8% and 87.2% of cases, respectively. Two key game-related statistics capable of discriminating between winning and losing game outcomes were field goal percentage and defensive rebounding, accounting for 13.6% and 14.2% of the total percentage of explained variance during the regular season and 11.5% and 14.7% during post-season competitive periods. Also, overall shooting efficiency (i.e., free-throw, 2-point, and 3-point combined) accounted for 23-26% of the total percentage of explained variance.