Boston Celtics fifth-year guard Avery Bradley hit a pair of late-game shots over the final 84 seconds of Friday's 100-99 win over the Denver Nuggets. It continues a recent pattern of Bradley stepping up with big-moment shots in late-game situations and begs the question: Does Avery Bradley have the clutch gene?
Bradley, even at age 24, is Boston's longest-tenured player. Recent trades sent away Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, leaving the Celtics without a surefire go-to presence in late-game situations. But coach Brad Stevens drew up a play for Bradley that led to a 20-foot jumper with 25 seconds to play on Friday night and proved to be the decisive bucket.
After the game, Bradley bellowed with confidence.
"I knew the shot was going to go in before I even shot it. I was that confident," Bradley told reporters in Denver, according to Masslive.com. "I even slipped and I still was able to make it. I knew it was going to go in."
It got us wondering: Just how good has Bradley been in late-game situations? Maybe a bit to our surprise, Bradley owns the best field goal percentage among those with at least four attempts while shooting 57.1 percent this season in what the league defines as "clutch" situations (+/- 5 points in the final 5 minutes).
Bradley's 28 shots in that scenario is second highest on the team to only departed Green (30). And while someone like Rondo shot just 9.1 percent in "clutch" time (1 for 11 overall) this season, Bradley seems to embrace it, shooting 60 percent beyond the 3-point arc in those scenarios.
Even if you crunch the data for one-possession games (+/- 3 points) in the final minute, Bradley is still shooting 50 percent overall (3 of 6), far and away the best individual performance on a team in which the rest of players in that situation are a mere 5 of 36 overall (13.9 percent).
It's a small sample, but there's no denying the numbers: For this season at least, Bradley is Boston's most consistent late-game option and, on a team with no stars, he will continue to get a chance to be the focal point when games are in the balance.
The question now is whether Bradley can maintain that success, particularly as more shots come his way in crunch-time situations and defenses put more emphasis on him in those late-game plays.
A glance at Boston's basic clutch statistics this season via the league's stat warehouse: