Basketball stats world: Next step?

BOSTON -- It was a big weekend here in Beantown, where some of the biggest minds in the business gathered at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to discuss some of the exciting new research people are doing to further our understanding of the game ... and then the next night the Celtics failed to give a foul when up by three points in the final seconds against a player calmly dribbling in his own end of the court.

Yes, it does sometimes seem we're beating our heads against a wall, but in the big picture we're making progress. Sure, the Celtics unnecessarily gave Washington a free look at a game-tying shot, but the coaching staff freely admitted this was a mistake afterward. And the gaffe came about largely by not communicating quickly enough in a rare late-game situation when a timeout wasn't used.