The win probability graph looks like an EKG reading, except instead of showing a person's heartbeat, it shows how likely a team is to win at any given moment. It's far from perfect, but it does give a decent idea of just how epic a comeback was, or how much "momentum" swung and where the swing took place.
This is Thursday's game, courtesy of Inpredictable. It's wacky. They have every game from this season. If you hate yourself, check out the one for the game at OKC. If you love seeing the Celtics blow it, here's the game at Boston. Sorry, Steezlord - the Wizards had to steal that win.
Here's a chunk of the graph from the end of the fourth quarter (between 3 and 4):
The red arrow is where Bradley Beal missed a jumper with about 0:06 left in the fourth quarter and the Wizards down 104-106. When the ball bounced off the rim, the Wizards' win probability was 7%. This means that of all the games where a team has been in this position at this time in the game, 7% of them came back to win.
Marcin Gortat grabbed the offensive rebound and made the layup with 0:05 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 106 (the blue arrow). In about a second and a half, Washington's win probability went all the way up to 40.6%. Marcin, your new nickname is Big Shot Gortat.
(Note: the Wizards were the road team, so the lower the green line, the better.)
1) Second quarter, 0:55 remaining - Wizards down 50-52
Wizards' win probability: 44.4% (teams in the Wizards' position win about 4 out of 9 times)
Terrence Ross goes out right before the half and the Wizards outscore Toronto 27-13 over the next ten minutes.
2) Third quarter, 2:57 remaining - Wizards up 77-65
Wizards' win probability: 86.7% (teams in the Wizards' position win about 7 out of 8 times)
The end of the previously mentioned Wizards 'run'. Dwane Casey calls timeout. Toronto then goes on an 11-0 run.
3) Fourth quarter, 5:15 remaining - Wizards down 95-97
Wizards' win probability: 40.7% (teams in the Wizards' position win about 2 out of 5 times)
Amir Johnson throws down a magnificent windmill dunk and the Raptors take their first lead of the second half. Coach Wittman leaves the team on the floor and the Wizards immediately retake the lead.
Here's where the graph starts to look like an EKG reading of somebody who just saw a grizzly bear in their living room.
4) First overtime, 0:55 remaining - Wizards down 111-114
Wizards' win probability: 18.5% (teams in the Wizards' position win about 1 out of 5 times)
Greivis Vasquez continues to hit back-breaking shots, because this is how Wizards games end.
5) Second overtime, 0:02 remaining - 118-118 tie
Wizards' win probability: 57.6% (teams in the Wizards' position win about 4 out of 7 times)
DeMar DeRozan gets the uncontested game-tying layup. The Wizards had a win probability of 87.9% right before this play - that's about where they were near the end of the third quarter (Point 2 on the graph).
6) Third overtime, 1:56 remaining - Wizards down 124-127
Wizards' win probability: 25.5% (teams in the Wizards' position win about 1 out of 4 times)
DeRozan hits two free throws. The home crowd is feeling great. Then:
Raptors foul --> Gortat 3-point play
Raptors turnover --> Ariza dunk
Raptors turnover --> Webster layup
Raptors missed free throw
Raptors missed free throw
7) Third overtime, 0:00 remaining - Wizards win 134-129
Knicks' win probability: -1,000,000.0% (Ouch)
That game was like a wild roller coaster. The Knicks' season is like a bungee jump with no cord, which is a lot less fun. And for some reason, the jump is nationally televised.