Since his career began with the Celtics, Paul Pierce has always been that go-to guy in clutch situations. We all know when in closing seconds, Pierce will be the player who knocks down the elbow jumper or hit the three point shot. During the Big Three era, Ray Allen became another weapon when the Celtics needed a clutch basket or two late in games. In his five seasons with Boston, Allen had won many games for the Celtics.
With Pierce getting older and Ray Allen now with the Miami Heat, who will be the guy that can come up big in the clutch?
As we look at who can be the player who wins games late in the fourth quarter, I’ll also go over scenarios and depending on what the team needs at that given moment, who will be the player who takes the shot.
Down By Two With 10 Seconds Left
This game time situation is all too common in the NBA, and as Celtics fans, we’ve seen this many times, even in the Big Three era. But who will take the final shot this season for the Celtics?
Pierce is a reliable player who can get the job done. If he doesn’t have the option of taking the ball to the basket, he can hit the outside shot. Lately though, there have been games where he has missed in the closing seconds, which is something we’re not accustomed to seeing. At this stage in his career, if he has been in a good rhythm all game, then his chances of making the game winning shot are much higher than if he had been struggling most of the night.
Kevin Garnett can be both an inside and outside threat. He can get an alley-oop from Rondo, can post up his defender, or he can hit the perimeter jump shot. One thing I never understood is why teams never try winning a game from the interior. If the Celtics can get Garnett in the post, they’ll have better success trying to win instead of taking the outside shot. If Garnett is double teamed, there will always be another player open, which leads me to Jason Terry.
Terry, in my eyes, is the Ray Allen of this squad when it comes to clutch situations. Many times in the past, the Celtics would go for the win instead of the tie and Allen usually made the three point shot. If he’s open, I see Jason Terry being that same option this season. But what’s even better is that Terry can create his own shot, which won’t require the offense to set him up, which in turn helps the Celtics preserve time.
Down By Three With Five Seconds Left
In this situation, I’d like to see either Jason Terry or Courtney Lee take the shot. While Pierce can hit the game tying three, it really isn’t his specialty when it comes down to the clutch, and I’d prefer him sticking with elbow jumpers.
Both Terry and Lee are our best options at three point range, shooting around 38% from the three point line in their careers. If there is one thing the Celtics will miss from Ray Allen, it’s his ability to hit threes no matter if he’s wide open or off balance.
Game Tied Seven Seconds Left
When the game is tied, anyone can take the shot. The worst possible thing that could happen is going into overtime. In these moments, I’d like to see Rajon Rondo make and take a clutch shot instead of dishing the ball out. He doesn’t need to do this all the time, but teams expect him to pass the ball and his defender plays off him.
He can easily beat his man, and if he can get into the paint he is good with those running floaters or he can draw the foul. Rondo’s free throw percentage has gone up, and he’s been able to make a lot more of those the last few seasons.
Coming Away With The Victory
To win in the final seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime, the players I mentioned will all be options. Until the season starts, we won’t know who will be the closer, but one thing we Celtics fans know is that Doc Rivers is great at utilizing his options, and he’s probably already working on plays for these situations.
All the time, the players get the credit for the game winners, but for Boston, our coach is the one who draws up the best out of bounds plays, and we have the players who execute them to perfection.