Sports Reference Blog

Quarterly Scoring Added For Most Pre-Shot Clock NBA/BAA Games

Posted by Mike Lynch on December 14, 2023

If you peruse the NBA Guide (the name of the NBA's official record book produced before every season) you'll notice that most team scoring records for quarters are restricted to 'since 1954-55', which is when the NBA first introduced the shot clock. Before that, games tended to be lower scoring, particularly in late and close situations as teams held out for possession of the ball at the end of the game. It is also often hard to find record of how much was scored in a given quarter before the shot clock as the league was generally less popular and recaps, let alone box scores, were less thorough. However, at Basketball-Reference we view it as important to attempt to preserve as many recordable facts about these games as possible. We are frequently making minor improvements to our box scores in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Thanks to some help from NBA research ace Todd Spehr, we have recently added quarter-by-quarter scoring to the vast majority of the BAA and NBA games from 1946-47 through 1953-54 that were previously missing these details. Before this recent work, we were missing these details on 709 games. We were able to add complete data for 569 of them and partial data for 62 of them. This leaves fewer than 100 games completely lacking scoring breakdowns. For instance, what the NBA considers the first game in the history of the league (though it was actually a BAA game) between the Knicks and Huskies on November 1, 1946 now has a complete scoring breakdown, with the Knicks winning despite coming up with just six points in the third quarter. Chicago Stags home games in this era might be particularly fun to look at because, as a marketing tactic, they decided to play 15-minute quarters in several home games such as this, this and this. Minutes played were not yet an official statistic, so it's unclear if any Stags were averaging over 50 MPG for some home games. We hope you enjoy these new additions.

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