Grizzlies are one of NBA's truly 'clutch' teams

Grizzlies are one of NBA's truly 'clutch' teams

Team identity is often overlooked in the talent-driven NBA, but the league’s top teams generally have unique characteristics that set them apart. There’s the selflessness of the Warriors, the defensive intelligence of the Spurs and the “live by the 3, kill by the 3” Morey-ball played down in Houston. 

Injuries to key players have prevented the Celtics from finding their own identifiable attribute, but the same cannot be said about tonight’s opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Over the last four seasons, the Grizzlies have been one of the “clutchest” teams in the NBA. This isn’t a subjective observation; winning close games is in their DNA. The NBA defines “clutch” as games within five points in the final five minutes of play. Memphis is 102-53 in those games since the start of the 2013-14 season, and is tied for the league lead with 13 clutch wins this season, boasting the fourth-best best record at 13–5. 

But when you adjust the numbers, their Basketball Acumen in Laborious Late Situations is even more impressive. 

The Grizzlies have a league-leading nine wins in games in which they’ve trailed by five points or fewer or been tied in the final minute this season, and their 9-2 record in those games leads the league. The Celtics, on the other hand, are just 2-7 in those games. Here’s hoping for a comfortable lead late for the Celtics tonight.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.