Lawler’s Law

by Ben Perreira

Lawler’s Law states that the NBA team that reaches 100 points first will win the game. It is based on Lawler’s observations and confirmed by looking back at NBA statistics that show it is true over 90% of the time.

Its brilliance lies in its uselessness. Like NyQuil helps us sleep but does little to help our immune systems make us well, Lawler’s Law soothes us by making us think it means something more than it does.

Why is it so useless, one may venture to ask?

Lawler2

This is a graphical representation of Lawler’s Law. Point A represents the beginning of a game. This team (which ultimately wins this game) has roughly a 50% chance of winning at that point. As the game goes on, and more points are scored, the team depicted here increases its chance of victory based on the number of points it has scored. Point B represents 100 points scored and the 90%+ chance of winning.

The missing dimension on this graph (and in the dialogue surrounding Lawler’s Law) is game time. Only the top 10 teams in the NBA have averaged more than 100 points per game this season. An NBA team has only a 33% chance of scoring 100 points in a game, so of course the team that reaches 100 points first will win the vast majority of the time.

There is nothing special about 100 points except that since few teams score that many points in a given game and that it’s the lowest triple digit number. It is a nice, round benchmark for what we already know – the first team that scores more than the average number of points in an NBA game (or anything, ever) will most likely win that game.

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