In this chapter we will consider the optimal strategy for two important situations that can occur at the end of a close basketball game:

  • In game 1 of the first round of the 2001 Eastern Conference playoffs the Philadelphia 76ers led the Indiana Pacers by two points. The Pacers had the ball with five seconds to go. Should the Pacers have attempted a two-pointer to tie or a three-pointer to win?
  • During game 6 of the 2005 Western Conference semifinals, the Dallas Mavericks led the Phoenix Suns by three points with five seconds to go. Steve Nash is bringing the ball up the court. Should the Mavericks foul Nash or allow him to attempt a game-tying three-pointer?

I was fortunate enough to be at both of these exciting ...

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