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JJ Redick Seems To Be The Only National Media Member Who Is Capable Of Being Level Headed When It Comes To The Celtics Clutch Time Offense

Boston Globe. Getty Images.

When you are 48-13, every misstep you make is going to get blown out of proportion. When that team is from a large market and is one of the marquee franchises in the league, that's even more true. When you're a needle mover in terms of clicks/views/etc, you can almost take it to the bank.

Which is why when the Celts wrapped up their inexcusable 22 point fourth quarter collapse the other night to the Cavs, a game in which they lost in part due to their late game offense, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what comes next. Considering the team hadn't lost in a month, it was national news. Every outlet you can imagine played the hits

- Jayson Tatum actually isn't clutch


- See this is why you can't trust them

- The Celtics have a huge problem

On and on it went. Certainly not the first time and it sure as shit won't be the last time. When this stuff happens, what makes it tricky is that the underlying point is correct. The Celtics NEED to be able to execute well in a playoff environment at the end of games if they have dreams of winning a title. That is true.

It's also true for every team in the NBA.

For example, for the last day or so we've had to hear about how Jayson Tatum's lack of clutchness is a worry for the playoffs. Meanwhile, this ignores all the times he's repeatedly come up huge in big clutch moments in said playoffs. ESPN puts up the 32% in the clutch FG% this season and how it's a huge playoff problem

yet I don't think I've seen anyone share this

Which is why despite all the chatter that's gone on over the last few days, the only one I think that really has any substance is what we heard from JJ Redick on this very topic


You see, it's possible to talk about a subject without making over the top hot takes just to drive engagement, who knew! 

I don't think this would surprise anyone who watches the Celts, but what's interesting is that in "clutch" moments the Celts do have the 10th highest AST% in the league at 58.4%. To help put that into perspective, the gold standard of clutch (DEN), sits at 7th at 60.2%.

The reality, and what makes these discussions difficult is to some degree, everyone is partially right. It's true that the Celts need to be good at the end of games, it's true that they have been for the most part this season, it's true that there is still a chance their best players fall into bad habits in these sets, and it's true that they need creativity and diversification of their offense late in games if they want to go over the hump. Brad gifted this team Kristaps Porzingis, it's OK to use him in these spots.

What this situation isn't, is

"Well actually the Celtics are 18-9 in the clutch so there are no issues"


"See this is yet another example of why the Celtics can't close!"

The truth is, they are better in these situations with this version compared to previous seasons. It's also true that if they approach those situations like we saw against the Cavs where they go too slow, there's no movement, they become predictable to guard and the best player plays with no urgency, they will lose. A game in which they come up short does not mean more than the times they came through and executed in a win. I know we tend to only hear about one side of that coin, but to truly evaluate performance I tend to think you should use the entire sample.

When you look around the league, it's not uncommon for the best player to get the ball late in games while everyone stands around and watches him create for himself. While the Celtics can do that and have found success at times, what makes them different is that they don't have to rely on it. When it happens, it is now a choice, not a necessity. 

It's also important that when talking about these specific situations, the data is very noisy. For example, the Celts are 4-6 in 1 point games in the final minute, and 2-5 in 1 point games in the final 10 seconds. That would suggest they have a huge closing problem right?

But then you look across the NBA and you see the Denver Nuggets (again the gold standard), are 5-6 in 1 point games in the final minute and 1-4 in 1 point games in the final 10 seconds.

Are we seeing anyone go on TV or write stories about how they can't close? Of course not! So, does it matter, or is it just statistical noise based on a small sample?

The thing you also have to remember is that the Celts very rarely get blown out, and very rarely are even down by 10 points. That means, knowing they won't go undefeated, they are going to lose some games close. That's just the nature of the beast. They have to lose somehow seeing as how nobody goes 82-0 and when you've been so good across the board, your hiccups are going to be blown out of proportion. That's national media basketball talk 101 in 2024.