Having a ball: evaluating scoring streaks and game excitement using in-match trend estimation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Many popular sports involve matches between two teams or players where each team have the possibility of scoring points throughout the match. While the overall match winner and result is interesting, it conveys little information about the underlying scoring trends throughout the match. Modeling approaches that accommodate a finer granularity of the score difference throughout the match is needed to evaluate in-game strategies, discuss scoring streaks, teams strengths, and other aspects of the game. We propose a latent Gaussian process to model the score difference between two teams and introduce the Trend Direction Index as an easily interpretable probabilistic measure of the current trend in the match as well as a measure of post-game trend evaluation. In addition we propose the Excitement Trend Index-the expected number of monotonicity changes in the running score difference-as a measure of overall game excitement. Our proposed methodology is applied to all 1143 matches from the 2019-2020 National Basketball Association season. We show how the trends can be interpreted in individual games and how the excitement score can be used to cluster teams according to how exciting they are to watch.

Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10182-022-00452-w.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAStA Advances in Statistical Analysis
Pages (from-to) 295–311
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2022.

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