There's an old adage among basketball fans that the first team to score 100 points wins the game. Now, I don't really think that I'm a big believer in these sorts of statements (I hate it when people tell me all you have to do is watch the last five - or two - minutes of a hoops game) but I always (and I do mean always) say it when I'm sitting at Verizon Center watching the Wizards play. So recently I started wondering: how often does the first team to drop in 100 go home with the victory? The results surprised me.
There's probably some website somewhere that has this statistic for the NBA for the life of the league. And it's probably sortable by team and year. If there is, don't tell me, because it would mean I just wasted about eight hours or so of my life compiling the same statistics for what has turned out to be a very short blog post.
This year, the Wizards have been involved in 53 games (of their 62 so far - including last night's disappointing loss to the Indiana Pacers) where one team or the other has scored 100 points or more. Obviously when one team only scores 100 (like last night), that team wins. That has happened in 29 games this season, or 54.7% of the time. In the remaining 24 games, the first team to tally a century has won 20 of them, or 83.3%. The total percentage of "first one to 100" games won this season is therefore 92.5%. That seemed like a reasonable result to me.
But when I started looking back further in the Wizards history (the prior five full seasons), this year's 92.5% is low. Over the past five full seasons plus this one, there have been 307 games where one team or both have hit 100. Of those games, the first team there has only lost 19 times. Of those 19 where the first team to 100 lost, nine have been overtime games (I didn't list overtime games for this season because the Wizards haven't played an overtime game yet). That means the first team to score 100 has won the game 93.8% of the time over the past five plus seasons. When the game has ended in regulation, that percentage jumps to 96.4%. So basically for every 28 games where one team scores 100 points and they manage to win in regulation, they win 27 times.
Now I know what you are thinking: the big reason this stat is so high is that most of these 100 plus games are blowouts, especially with the last six years Wizards involved. And that's a good way to look at things. When the game is close (five or fewer points margin of victory) the percentage drops significantly to 78.3% since 2010-2011.
So the first team to 100 points doesn't always win. But 288 out of 307 over a five year plus period is good enough for me. I'm still saying "first one to 100 wins!"