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Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations

12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET
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After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.

The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).

Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size).

MIN FG FG% 3P 3P% FT FT% REB AST STL TO PF
PIERCE 59.0 6/23 .261 5/12 .417 8/12 .750 5 5 2 2 6
GARNETT 57.6 13/30 .433 0/0 N/A 13/16 .813 18 3 1 2 6
TERRY 46.2 4/11 .364 2/6 .333 5/8 .625 3 4 2 0 0
RONDO 45.4 5/13 .385 0/1 .000 4/6 .667 11 17 1 4 2
BASS 38.5 6/14 .429 0/0 N/A 4/6 .667 13 0 0 2 5
GREEN 22.5 6/10 .600 3/5 .600 3/3 100.0 7 0 0 1 4
LEE 17.7 0/3 .000 0/3 .000 0/0 N/A 2 0 1 0 2
CELTICS 60.2 40/107 .374 10/30 .300 37/51 .726 61 29 8 11 27

And here are those Celtics averages per 48 minutes in the same clutch situations.

PTS FG% 3P% FT% REB AST STL TO PF
PIERCE 20.3 .261 .417 .750 4.1 4.1 1.6 1.6 4.9
GARNETT 32.5 .433 N/A .813 15.0 2.5 0.8 1.7 5.0
TERRY 14.5 .364 .333 .625 3.1 4.2 2.1 0.0 0.0
RONDO 15.9 .385 .000 .667 11.6 18.0 1.1 4.2 2.1
BASS 20.0 .429 N/A .667 16.2 0.0 0.0 2.5 6.2
GREEN 38.4 .600 .600 100.0 14.9 0.0 0.0 2.1 8.5
LEE 0.0 .000 .000 N/A 5.4 0.0 2.7 0.0 5.4
CELTICS 101.3 .374 .300 .726 61 29 8 11 27

And here are the locations and percentages for all the Celtics shots in those same clutch situations.

AT RIM FG% 3-9 FT. FG% 10-15 FT. FG% 16-23 FT. FG% 3P 3P%
PIERCE 0/1 .000 0/3 .000 0/2 .000 1/5 .200 5/12 .417
GARNETT 5/7 .714 2/6 .333 3/6 .500 3/11 .273 0/0 N/A
TERRY 0/1 .000 0/1 .000 0/0 N/A 2/3 .667 2/6 .333
RONDO 2/2 100.0 0/1 .000 1/1 100.0 2/8 .250 0/1 .000
BASS 5/8 .625 0/0 N/A 0/0 N/A 1/6 .167 0/0 N/A
GREEN 1/1 100.0 2/2 100.0 0/0 N/A 0/2 .000 3/5 .600
LEE 0/0 N/A 0/0 N/A 0/0 N/A 0/0 N/A 0/3 .000
CELTICS 13/20 .650 4/13 .308 4/9 .444 9/35 .257 10/27 .370

Now that you’ve had a moment to digest these numbers, here are 10 things to consider.

  • After finishing as one of the 10 best scorers in the clutch last season, Pierce has been atrocious this year, shooting 26.1 percent (down from 51.0% a year ago). He’s gotten to the rim only once in almost 60 minutes of clutch play. In fact, he’s shooting just 1-of-11 inside the 3-point line in such situations.
  • As he should be, Garnett has been the C’s workhorse in the clutch. He’s taken almost 30 percent of their 100-plus field goal attempts, making a respectable 43.3 percent of them. And he’s been most successful in the post, where he’s shot 5-of-7 at the rim and gotten to the free throw line 16 times.
  • Rondo has been extremely Rondo-like, averaging a ridiculous 15.9 points, 18.0 assists and 11.6 rebounds per 48 clutch minutes (oh, and 4.2 turnovers, too). However, he’s shooting just 2-of-8 (25.0 FG%) on long jumpers in the clutch as opposed to 28-of-48 (58.3 FG%) the rest of the season.
  • For all his faults this season, Green has been the C’s best performer in the clutch, averaging 38.4 points (60.0 FG%, 60.0 3P%, 100.0 FT%) and 14.9 rebounds per 48 minutes. Now, if only the Celtics could get him to play with that much assertiveness the rest of the game.
  • Likewise, Bass has been a beast inside, averaging 20.0 points (5-8 FG at the rim) and 16.2 rebounds per 48 minutes of clutch time. Considering he usually takes more than half his shots from 16-23 feet and averages single-digit boards per 48 minutes for the entire year, why doesn’t he attack the rim more often?
  • Terry started 4-of-6 from the floor (2-3 3P) over his first seven appearances in clutch situations. Since then, in an ugly overtime win over the Magic and losses to the Bucks and 76ers, he’s 0-for-5.
  • Lee has played 17:41 in clutch situations, taken three treys and missed all of them, including the absurd air ball on a wide-open attempt from the corner against the 76ers on Friday night.
  • Somehow, Sullinger has played 4:19 of clutch time and failed to register a single stat of any kind.
  • In 6:36 during clutch situations, Barbosa has committed three personal fouls (21.7 per 48 minutes).
  • In clutch situations, the C’s attempt the most shots from 16-23 feet, where they have their worst shooting percentage. In fact, more than half of their 107 field goals during those stretches have come outside of 16 feet, where they’re shooting 30.7 percent. Meanwhile, they’ve made 50 percent of their shots within 15 feet.

If you’ve watched the Celtics this season and thought to yourself, “They do way too much standing around and setting for jumpers,” you’re absolutely right. The Celtics have a point guard who can beat anybody in the NBA off the dribble, and yet all four of their game-winning attempts have been isolation jump shots. Not a good look.

(Have a question, concern or conception for the next Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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