Earlier this month, Ken Pomeroy had a look at which statistics most significantly impact a team’s win probability in a game that is tied at the half. The biggest impact he found in in the three-point shooting category.
Namely: if you shot it worse from outside than your opponent in the first half, that’s worth about a 7% boost to you in win probability in the second half. Why? Basically, regression is going to catch up to both teams over the long run, which is good news for the team that shot it poorly and bad news for the team that shot well:
(I yoinked the above from Ken’s post.)
This is basically just an illustration of how I think we all intuit the progression of any given basketball game, especially when one team is obviously better than the other, score aside. Like, if Wake Forest happens to shoot well above its season average while State is struggling from the field over the first 20 minutes and the game is close, we recognize the fluky nature of these results and expect water to find its level in the second half. Which tends to be what happens. (Unless we are in Winston-Salem, obviously.)
Anyway, there’s a lot more explanation in Ken’s post, which is worth a read. File this away in your brain for basketball season: sure, we shot it like crap from outside in that first half, but since the game is close at the break, I have no reason to panic! (But may choose to anyhow.)