Brooklyn Nets making progress in the clutch

Brooklyn Nets Joe Harris. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Joe Harris. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

No team in the NBA has spent more time in clutch situations than the Brooklyn Nets and they are getting better in crunch time as the season progresses.

On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets found themselves in a road battle against the Chicago Bulls, a game that came down to the wire in the clutch.

In other worse, just another typical game for the Nets.

The NBA defines a “clutch” game as one in which the margin is five points or less in the final five minutes. By that definition, some points of a late-game situation can be clutch and others not.

More from Nothin' But Nets

It’s a flawed measuring stick, but useful at least to illustrate how often a team finds itself in this particular scenario and how they fare once they are there.

Wednesday night’s game shows the flaws in the final- five-minutes delineation to a degree. The entire final five minutes between the Nets and Bulls fit the criteria for a clutch situation.

But what was arguably Brooklyn’s biggest shot of the fourth quarter did not. Joe Harris‘ above-the-break 3-pointer that halved Chicago’s lead from six points to three came with 6:04 left on the clock. So the shot was clutch, huge, enormous, big even … but not technically “clutch.”

Harris had his moments within the definition to be sure and we’ll get into that.

The game in Chicago was the 21st game this season that came down to crunch time, two more than any other team in the NBA. More than half of their 33 games fit the NBA’s description and Brooklyn is 9-12 in those games, including going 5-0 during their current seven-game win streak.

They’ve spent 84 minutes in the clutch, also the most in the league. And after struggling — mightily at times — in those close, late situations, the Nets are growing up and turning into late-game assassins.

Five of their eight games in October were “clutch” and Brooklyn was 2-3 in those games and 3-5 overall. In November, nine of 15 games went into the final minutes. In a month in which the Nets were 5-10, they were 2-7 in pressure games.

But as the calendar has turned to December, where the Nets are 7-3, they are 5-2 in those late-game situations.

Let’s look at the 33 minutes the Nets spent in crunch time in November.

They shot just 31.5 percent overall (17-for-54), made only 5-of-19 3-pointers (26.3 percent) and were 14-for-22 (63,.6 percent) at the foul line. They also committed nine turnovers and were outscored by 31 points in those 33 minutes.


Their opponents shot 50 percent (27-for-54), were 6-of-15 from deep (40 percent) and made 24-of-28 (85.7 percent) at the line, with seven turnovers and outrebounded Brooklyn 34-27.

The only thing crunching in late, close games was Brooklyn’s spine as it was being chewed up and spit out.

But looking at the 26 minutes they’ve spent in clutch situations this month, the Nets are making some strides.

They’re shooting 44.7 percent (21-for-47) to their opponents’ 41.9 percent (18-for-43). Long-range shooting is at 3-for-11 (27.3 percent) to 5-for-15 (33.3 percent) for their opponents.

Brooklyn is 12-for-16 at the line (75 percent) to 6-for-10 for their foes (60 percent). They’ve also forced nine turnovers in those 26 late-game minutes while coughing it up eight times and are even on the glass at 24 rebounds each.

They’ve still been outscored 47-37, a byproduct of the loss to Oklahoma City mostly.

The 12 losses overall are the most in the league in close games, with the nine wins tied for ninth. The late-game shooting numbers are 42.4 percent overall (18th), 34.6 percent from 3 (13th) and 69.8 percent at the line (26th).

Their 27 turnovers rank next-to-last, ahead of Chicago’s 30 giveaways in 18 games that fit the criteria.

As for opponents, they shoot 45.8 percent (23rd), 36.7 percent from deep (21st) and 84.5 percent at the line (tied for 28th). The 23 opposition turnovers is tied for fifth, sliding to 13th at 1.1 per game.

Spencer Dinwiddie leads the Nets, playing 81 of the 84 minutes the team has spent in those close-late situations.

But here’s an interesting dynamic.

Despite only playing 58 minutes in 16 games in clutch situations, D’Angelo Russell‘s 36 shot attempts are the most for Brooklyn. He’s hitting 15-for-36 overall and 6-for-16 from 3-point range — also the most in each category — with two assists and six turnovers.

Dinwiddie is 14-for-35 (40 percent) overall and 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) from deep, with six assists and six turnovers.

Dinwiddie is also 15-for-18 from the line in close-late situations. Russell has not attempted a foul shot in those situations.

Before he was hurt, Caris LeVert was 8-for-13 overall and 1-for-3 from deep, but just 4-for-7 at the line in his 33 late-game minutes.

The team’s most accurate shooter from deep is veteran Jared Dudley at 3-for-7. Harris is 3-for-8 (4-for-9 if you count the big one outside the clutch zone Wednesday night).

It was Harris who hit the go-ahead shot Wednesday night, blowing by Wendell Carter Jr. on a closeout and knocking home a delicate six-foot floater off glass with Kris Dunn charging at him.

Jarrett Allen has the most free-throw attempts, 19, in his 71 clutch minutes, making 12 of them (63.2 percent). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is 4-for-7 and DeMarre Carroll 2-for-2. No one else has an attempt.

While the definition of the metric is less-than-perfect, the numbers do illustrate a point that confirms what we’ve seen with the eye test.

7 Hall of Famers many forget were Nets. dark. Next

The Brooklyn Nets are getting better — much better — at closing out games in crunch time.