Exactly how likely was Ray Allen's 2013 clutch 3?


Ray Allen in the corner.

Miami's 2013 NBA Finals win over San Antonio can reasonably be boiled down to those five words, an iconic moment that has already achieved legendary status.

You know the story: Seconds from the Spurs clinching the title, LeBron James misses a game-tying 3, Chris Bosh gets the rebound and dishes to Allen who hits the shot and forces overtime in Game 6. The Heat win, then take Game 7 and the championship.

But what are the chances of that even happening? What's the cumulative possibility of that trio of events -- James, Bosh, Allen -- unfolding just like that?

About nine percent, according to Rajiv Maheswaran.

In a March TED talk that was recently released, Maheswaran used Allen's shot to illustrate the importance of understanding efficiency and shot quality.

As the CEO of Second Spectrum, a company devoted to providing real-world results and context to advanced analytics, Maheswaran concerns himself with what a sophisticated machine can tell us about our habits once it learns the vagaries of human behavior. Pick-and-rolls, for instance, are a difficult thing to calculate because of the variety of options available to the players on the floor.

But through repetition and recall, Second Spectrum has generated enough data to provide insight to coaches throughout the league.

And beyond the cold, binary sea of numbers are real stories and moments like Allen's that can occasionally be better appreciated when put into a statistical perspective.

Watch the full TED talk here.