Last night’s Celtics-Heat game thankfully did not come down to any “clutch” moments as Miami proceeded to shellac Boston to force Game 7 in which should be the most exciting game of these 2012 playoffs. Now, I don’t say “thankfully” because I am some closet Heat fan or have some tremendous ill-will towards the Celtics (it’s more of a general Boston hatred, not Celtics specific). I say thankfully because now I won’t have to read articles about whether or not LeBron James is a great or terrible clutch player, whether his willingness to pass the ball to the wide open teammate while he is double-teamed makes him a coward or not. I don’t know if LeBron is clutch and honestly I don’t care.
I cannot go further without paying homage to one of the great interpreter of clutch statistics, SI.com’s Zach Lowe. Anything you want to know about the minutia of how these statistics are compiled is referred to from there, but I wanted to speak to a broader point. Simply put, isolation plays are the least efficient plays in all of basketball and yet teams with superstars continue to choose this option when the game is on the line. According to Synergy statistics, isolation plays are worth 0.78 points per possession by far the lowest compared to transition plays (1.12 ppp), off-the-ball cuts (1.18 ppp), etc.