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NBA "Super Clutch" Statistics

We post stats (updated daily) for every player on how they are performing in clutch moments which we define as the last five minutes of a game where neither team is ahead by more than five points. This allows for some reasonable sample size over the course of the season.

However a number of folks out there (you know who you are) keep insisting that clutch should really be even more restrictive in its definition. So, to that end in this study we will stress the ultra clutch timeframe by examining the last two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime period, with neither team ahead by more than 3 points. In essence, games where a team can tie it up or take the lead within one possession.

We'll start by looking at some numbers on the team by team level, before moving on to which players deserve their "prime time" reputations in part two.

(All stats reflect games played through March 8th of the 2003-04 season).

1) NBA Offensive "Clutch" Team Stats
There are a number of statistics people are drawn to when assessing offensive skills. We see references to field goal percentage, assist/turnover ratios, points per minute and the like. The measure however that is most in favor with NBA sabermetricians is the concept of points per possession, or more commonly, points per 100 possessions. This is intended to take into account a multitude of factors, including shooting efficiencies, foul drawing skills, offensive rebounding, and turnovers. You wind up with a rating that more precisely indicates a team's ability than you would achieve by focusing on one small part of the picture.

Notes: The Rating estimates a team's points scored per 100 possessions. The eFG number represents an "effective field goal percentage" when adjusted for the 3-point baskets made.

Rk
Team
Rating
FGM
FGA
FG%
3ptM
eFG
FTM
FTA
FT%
Ast
T/O
O.Reb
1
 BOS 130.6 
22
57
.386
8
.456
42
55
.764
13
7
14
2
 UTA 129.0 
21
50
.420
4
.460
35
47
.745
8
8
14
3
 MIN 124.7 
27
70
.386
5
.421
42
50
.840
12
5
14
4
 SAC 122.8 
25
62
.403
8
.468
41
49
.837
17
5
6
5
 MEM 119.6 
29
71
.408
5
.444
37
49
.755
15
7
14
6
 SA 116.8 
25
64
.391
5
.430
37
52
.712
11
6
12
7
 LAL 114.7 
27
70
.386
11
.464
35
53
.660
18
10
14
8
 LAC 114.6 
26
54
.481
3
.509
28
41
.683
18
13
11
9
 IND 113.3 
28
70
.400
10
.471
31
44
.705
20
7
9
10
 NJ 112.9 
15
34
.441
2
.471
17
21
.810
11
6
5
11
 HOU 111.6 
27
61
.443
3
.467
43
59
.729
15
14
9
12
 DAL 109.5 
23
78
.295
8
.346
43
54
.796
13
10
21
13
 NY 109.5 
22
60
.367
5
.408
32
35
.914
10
6
6
14
 ORL 108.7 
26
71
.366
5
.401
40
53
.755
11
12
15
15
 TOR 108.1 
40
99
.404
5
.429
38
47
.809
18
12
16
16
 DET 107.9 
33
97
.340
4
.361
48
56
.857
13
16
26
17
 MIL 106.1 
18
53
.340
3
.368
37
44
.841
10
7
6
18
 SEA 102.7 
24
66
.364
5
.402
31
42
.738
11
8
9
19
 ATL 102.4 
34
76
.447
8
.500
27
34
.794
18
20
9
20
 CLE 101.7 
26
69
.377
2
.391
40
56
.714
11
18
17
21
 POR 100.0 
26
77
.338
2
.351
35
45
.778
13
10
16
22
 DEN 91.0 
18
60
.300
1
.308
26
33
.788
12
7
11
23
 GS 89.4 
28
91
.308
6
.341
26
46
.565
13
6
17
24
 MIA 88.3 
18
66
.273
4
.303
31
41
.756
9
11
13
25
 WAS 84.7 
16
53
.302
2
.321
17
23
.739
5
6
8
26
 PHO 84.7 
17
62
.274
4
.306
24
38
.632
7
8
12
27
 NO 83.2 
25
80
.313
7
.356
25
39
.641
16
14
11
28
 CHI 81.9 
17
49
.347
3
.378
20
34
.588
11
13
6
29
 PHI 76.8 
17
60
.283
1
.292
24
32
.750
8
8
4

The sample sizes are smaller than we would like. Nevertheless, the strongest teams in the league are well represented in the top part of the table. At the same time, while the Celtics have had a trying year, their play on offense in critical moments has at least been strong. The Jazz as will be seen in detail a little later, have their own crunch time weapon in Andrei Kirilenko.

The league averages in this "extreme clutch" phase of games for the 2003-04 season are 104.9 points per 100 possessions, with a .363 Field Goal accuracy mark, and a .399 effective FG percentage. In addition, the assist to turnover ratio is a mere 1.31, perhaps suggesting that too many isolation plays are being run.

On the other hand, for Iverson and the 76ers, the final two minutes of close games have been difficult indeed, with only 28% of shots finding their way into the bucket. More importantly, the Hornets, who currently hold down the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, have yet to find the means to be effective when it counts the most, a troubling sign in that many playoff games do go down to the wire.

Of course, offense is only half the story so let's check in on the defensive side of the equation.

2) NBA Defensive "Clutch" Team Stats
Focusing again on the points per 100 possessions metric, but this looking at the production allowed to opponents has some surprises in store!

Rk
Team
Rating
FGM
FGA
FG%
3ptM
eFG
FTM
FTA
FT%
Ast
T/O
O.Reb
1
 MIA 78.0 
15
64
.234
1
.242
25
32
.781
8
9
14
2
 MEM 78.6 
16
72
.222
2
.236
35
47
.745
5
12
15
3
 PHI 81.6 
13
55
.236
3
.264
27
39
.692
4
12
14
4
 CHI 84.6 
23
67
.343
6
.388
14
20
.700
13
9
6
5
 LAC 90.7 
19
63
.302
3
.325
29
38
.763
7
5
6
6
 LAL 93.2 
24
77
.312
7
.357
22
29
.759
12
10
16
7
 IND 93.5 
23
61
.377
3
.402
23
30
.767
13
14
10
8
 UTA 96.2 
16
51
.314
2
.333
27
36
.750
10
4
6
9
 CLE 97.9 
26
76
.342
6
.382
37
45
.822
14
11
8
10
 TOR 99.5 
34
88
.386
4
.409
47
64
.734
17
20
14
11
 ORL 101.0 
29
75
.387
6
.427
33
50
.660
18
16
15
12
 NO 103.2 
30
75
.400
5
.433
33
45
.733
12
16
14
13
 WAS 104.2 
15
53
.283
5
.330
34
43
.791
10
5
9
14
 DAL 104.5 
25
67
.373
5
.410
28
41
.683
15
6
10
15
 POR 106.3 
24
65
.369
7
.423
26
38
.684
12
9
13
16
 MIN 106.4 
33
78
.423
1
.429
40
54
.741
17
12
11
17
 NY 108.1 
20
54
.370
5
.417
32
48
.667
11
9
11
18
 DEN 109.4 
21
51
.412
3
.441
27
37
.730
16
8
8
19
 PHO 111.1 
24
64
.375
6
.422
36
45
.800
12
12
13
20
 HOU 111.2 
25
71
.352
6
.394
43
60
.717
12
11
17
21
 GS 112.3 
37
83
.446
3
.464
40
58
.690
20
10
12
22
 DET 113.6 
33
82
.402
5
.433
44
58
.759
16
11
15
23
 MIL 113.7 
21
59
.356
6
.407
30
39
.769
13
3
9
24
 NJ 114.3 
17
38
.447
1
.461
24
29
.828
10
7
5
25
 BOS 115.6 
23
66
.348
6
.394
40
44
.909
12
6
10
26
 SAC 121.8 
23
63
.365
5
.405
34
47
.723
11
7
19
27
 SA 124.7 
32
71
.451
6
.493
26
35
.743
13
8
16
28
 SEA 129.1 
23
58
.397
11
.491
37
52
.712
11
8
14
29
 ATL 133.5 
36
83
.434
10
.494
59
69
.855
23
10
15

That is indeed the Miami Heat putting the kibosh on opponents' plans for scoring in the late going. Likewise the Grizzlies outstanding performance this season has been in part attributable to their brilliant clutch time defensive work. Interestingly, while the offensive top ten rankings were loaded with top NBA teams, the defensive scale features five teams that wouldn't be making the playoffs if the season ended yesterday.

It's hard not to puzzle over the Spurs #27 placing, since their championship run last year was predicated on powerful defense. Again, sample sizes are small, but it does seem to be something San Antonio will want to address in the regular season before the outcomes of games takes on a very serious tone.

For the wrapup then, let's look at the comparison between offense defense on the year.

3) NBA "Clutch" Net Statistics
Putting the offensive and defensive ratings side by side allows us to view the net overall performance.
Rk
Team
Off.
Def.
Net
1
 MEM 119.6  78.6  +41.0 
2
 UTA 129.0  96.2  +32.8 
3
 LAC 114.6  90.7  +23.9 
4
 LAL 114.7  93.2  +21.5 
5
 IND 113.3  93.5  +19.8 
6
 MIN 124.7  106.4  +18.3 
7
 BOS 130.6  115.6  +15.0 
8
 MIA 88.3  78.0  +10.3 
9
 TOR 108.1  99.5  +8.6 
10
 ORL 108.7  101.0  +7.7 
11
 DAL 109.5  104.5  +5.0 
12
 CLE 101.7  97.9  +3.8 
13
 NY 109.5  108.1  +1.4 
14
 SAC 122.8  121.8  +1.0 
15
 HOU 111.6  111.2  +0.4 
16
 NJ 112.9  114.3  -1.4 
17
 CHI 81.9  84.6  -2.7 
18
 PHI 76.8  81.6  -4.8 
19
 DET 107.9  113.6  -5.7 
20
 POR 100.0  106.3  -6.3 
21
 MIL 106.1  113.7  -7.6 
22
 SA 116.8  124.7  -7.9 
23
 DEN 91.0  109.4  -18.4 
24
 WAS 84.7  104.2  -19.5 
25
 NO 83.2  103.2  -20.0 
26
 GS 89.4  112.3  -22.9 
27
 PHO 84.7  111.1  -26.4 
28
 SEA 102.7  129.1  -26.4 
29
 ATL 102.4  133.5  -31.1 

Memphis has a record that can match up with almost anyone since the beginning of 2004, and they are emerging as the team that no one wants to have to play in the first round of the playoffs.

Utah's fine showing in the clutch adds another plug for Jerry Sloan's longshot "coach of the year" candidacy, and the Clippers...well, they are mystifying as always.

Meanwhile two of the preseason favorites in each conference to be meeting in the Finals, the Lakers and Pacers, check in with heady 4th and 5th place rankings, suggesting that Indiana's record is no fluke, and that the Lakers may well be in position to make a title run when the real season begins.

Among other notable teams, the T'Wolves have no shortage of go-to guys with their three-headed scoring machine, while the Kings have been excellent with the ball, but need some shoring up on the defensive end.

On the negative side among playoff standouts currently are the Nets, Spurs, Pistons, Bucks and Hornets. If playoff ball is indeed closer to 48 minutes of crunch time regular season play, then these squads have some things to work on.

In part two of our look at "ultra clutch" performance we will focus on the players! Which stars are truly dominating the end of games? Stay tuned...


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