How clutch are the Celtics compared to other playoff teams?

Boston delivered in clutch time in Game 1 vs. Brooklyn after finishing 29th in clutch play during the regular season.

Jayson Tatum delivered the first game-winning shot of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on Sunday, executing a flawless spinning layup at the buzzer that lifted the Boston Celtics to a Game 1 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The execution of that final sequence is the epitome of clutch play, one that will be replayed for years to come and has already been etched in Boston’s lengthy history books.

When we look at clutch stats, the default parameters are when the score is within five points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. Here are the top 10 players in total clutch points throughout the 2021-22 regular season:

Tatum ranks ninth on this list with 97 clutch points over the course of the season but did not shoot the ball with high efficiency from the field and especially from 3-point range. Tatum was able to draw fouls and shot his free throws extremely well to help land him among the top 10 clutch scorers of the season.

In fact, Boston posted the second-lowest win percentage in games that featured clutch play during the regular season as they finished just 13-22 in clutch games.

If we look at clutch play compared to where teams are seeded in the playoffs, the Celtics are a huge outlier. The other three teams that finished as the top two seeds in their respective conferences – Phoenix, Memphis and Miami – all ranked in the top five in clutch win percentage during the regular season. Of the eight teams that have home-court advantage in the first round, Boston is the only team that finished below 12th in clutch win percentage.

Of course, those rankings cover the entire season, and Boston really turned things around after the calendar flipped to 2022. Since Jan. 1, the Celtics went 34-12 for the third-best record in the NBA, and the best in the Eastern Conference, trailing only Phoenix and Dallas. However, during that time, Boston was still just 7-8 in clutch games, ranking 17th in the league over that span.