Harden Can Be Clutch Too

OKLAHOMA CITY — Like the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder have three stars. And as a group, they might be more potent offensively than the Heat’s trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Yet, in decisive moments in the regular season, one of the Thunder’s three stars was largely ignored.

James Harden played nearly as many “clutch-time” minutes as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the regular season, but didn’t get nearly as many shots in those minutes. While Durant and Westbrook combined to attempt 208 shots from the field in regular season clutch time, Harden attempted just 11.

Thunder clutch-time shooting, regular season

Kevin Durant 152 47 120 39.2% 14 43 32.6% 37 42 88.1% 145
Russell Westbrook 152 37 88 42.0% 7 20 35.0% 46 50 92.0% 127
James Harden 134 3 11 27.3% 0 6 .0% 14 19 73.7% 20
Others 16 43 37.2% 4 14 28.6% 13 20 65.0% 49
Total 103 262 39.3% 25 83 30.1% 110 131 84.0% 341

Clutch time = last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less.

Things have changed in the playoffs. Harden had a breakthrough in Game 4 of the first round in Dallas, scoring 15 fourth-quarter points as the Thunder turned a 13-point deficit into a six-point, series-clinching victory. Six of those 15 points (2-for-4 from the field, 2-for-2 from the line) came within the clutch-time parameters.

Overall in the postseason, Harden has as many clutch-time shots as he did in the regular season. And with 10 trips to the line and four assists, he actually has a higher clutch-time usage rate than Westbrook.

Thunder clutch-time shooting, playoffs

Kevin Durant 38 12 20 60.0% 1 6 16.7% 11 14 78.6% 36
Russell Westbrook 38 3 14 21.4% 0 4 .0% 1 1 100.0% 7
James Harden 38 5 11 45.5% 2 3 66.7% 10 10 100.0% 22
Others 8 14 57.1% 1 1 100.0% 10 11 90.9% 27
Total 28 59 47.5% 4 14 28.6% 32 36 88.9% 92

Harden credits his teammates for his increased attempts down the stretch of close games.

“I think it’s a trust factor,” Harden said Monday. “It’s grown and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me to go out there and make plays, not only for myself, but for them as well.”

And obviously, if the Thunder have three late-game threats instead of just two, their offense is that much tougher to stop. The Thunder have scored 120 points per 100 possessions in postseason clutch time, up from 106 in the regular season.

“It’s a big plus for us to have, not just a third guy that can statistically put up big numbers, but a third guy that is truly a dynamic playmaker, either for himself or for other people,” Derek Fisher said. “I think we’ve just been reading situations and reading the game.”


  1. lebron_can't_make_FT says:

    Miami will be the 2012 NBA champs if he will not missed consecutive free throw shots!!!

  2. Well well says:

    Honestly I want the heat to win this is the biggest test so far in lebron career if he just attack the rim and play kd just like rose in the east finals last yaer king get a ring

  3. Jrocheatbaby says:

    Hmmm it’s time lebron must avrg 35 a game I see all games close but it’s going to come down to clutch wade bosh just need to put up 20 heat in 6

  4. biv10 says:

    That’s a lot of free throws in the clutch.

  5. Harden beard gives bad odor to creat space for clutch shoots. Lol. It is a great tool n I think Dwade should use same method n learn to be effective entire game not just only second half. Lol
    Ooooohhh buddy I just can’t wait for this final to start n dramas unfold. I like both team so Idc who wins this year championship but I really would love to see Lebron win his first ring n smack it across his haters face.
    Let’s gooo let’s get this party started tonight 9pm baby!

  6. NBA Swish says:

    What an excellent stat! This series is going to really push the limits of all players! Can harden do that against wade, can wade do it against harden/sefolosha

    Even more exciting is will LeBron be able to understand and stop Durant over a 7 game series and can the length of Durant elimate LeBron’s jump shooting! All very interesting!

    All in all, amazing stat John!

  7. goOKC says:

    It was fun seeing Bosh crying after their loss to Dallas last year, looking forward to seeing it again.

  8. Cedric says:

    OKC KD was very disrespectful by hugging on his family before the game was over against the Spurs in game 6.They will lose GO Heat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. cesar go says:

    LBJ will NOT shoot the ball during crunch time. This is just Dejavu for him. Sorry Lebron , no ring for you,

  10. Spinnervate says:

    Heat are unstoppable? Greatest of all Time?

    They just went on a 7 game series against a faded celtics team lollolololololololol

  11. adrixe says:

    OKC will take the championship away from lbj and the heat. and KD will get one ring before LBJ does! I would love to see that!

  12. LOLakers says:

    Heat in 4 or 5 at the very most. Blunder are just not on the same level as the Heat! Miami is one of the greatest teams of all time and they are unstoppable!!!

    • OKCKD35 says:

      LOLakers, i am tired of your haterism, i’ve had to endure you since the second round, talking about how the lakers would win, then how the Spurs would win, go back under your bridge you troll.

  13. lousie philippines says:

    goooo heat!!!!!!!lebron deserves to have that championship ring!!!!!!

    • saywhat says:

      LOL LeBron deserves it? After banding together desperately with Wade and Bosh and they still couldn’t win last year? …… and lemme see. Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka and the crew, who all naturally fit together and became such a powerhouse through much patience, effort, and practice, THEY don’t deserve a ring? LOOOOOL

      • kenny says:

        Oh and so Lebron doesn’t deserve one, just because he went to Miami for a better shot! He fit naturally in cleveland and dragged them to the finals and to the NBA elite and what happened there? Nothing. I don’t care who he plays for, he is a great player who deserves a ring.

  14. RONELIO says:

    After all the bottom line is MIAMI HEAT RULES AND WINS THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP 2012…

  15. dhmoorthy says:

    harden is playing with determination…..he will ‘clutch” atleast in 2 matches.,,,

  16. Lebron iz DeezD says:

    if miami attacks the basket and if their 3-point shooters step up and nail open 3z…izzz a WRAPPPPPPPP

    • Jamie says:

      ummmm thats any team, not just the Heat… dont forget the fact that the Heat have been stretched more games every final they’ve played even to 7 with the C’s who were busted up in the beginning….. Heats biggest flaw is no Depth ( and their coach ) but as long as we dont see the bad calls from the ref to pretty much give the games to the Heat, OKC will take it out, but not with ease……

    • Scud says:

      Z is for zebra

    • OKCKD35 says:

      ask the Spurs how that worked out, tony parker had a good game and a half and was shut down driving and kicking, OKC is one of THE BEST rotation defenses in the NBA, you will find this out soon.

  17. NBAfan says:

    I understand that the writer wants to “demystify” the idea of “clutch” by quantifying it through stats. It’s an honorable goal and a valiant effort so far. I do believe that SOME of “clutch” can be quantified, but NOT ALL OF IT.

    Clutch is also that feeling of wanting to take that shot. Of thinking you will make it no matter what. I think that’s also part of clutch. Kobe has it. Durant has it. Even Wade has it. I’m not REmystifying “clutch”, I’m just reminding people that there’s more to basketball than just numbers. This ain’t Moneyball and you ain’t Brad Pitt.

    5 minutes left with a score differential of 5 pts or less???? Where did you get that arbitrary set of numbers….DEPENDING ON THE FLOW OF THE GAME….5 pts can seem impossible and in a another case 10 pts would not seem enough even if there’s only 3 minutes left. You can’t quantify the flow of the game….so you can’t fully quantify “clutch”.

    There’s science to the game. There’s art to the game…..”clutch” is one of those things that has both art and science to it and to just describe it using stats is not being fair to the word “clutch”.

  18. peopleplease says:

    how can harden be clutch when wade draws him in foul trouble early???? he gets called for every foul, let alone wade drawing those fouls,,, look for wade to draw those fouls on his forehead, and tattoo his number on his forehead… the big 3… dwaryne wade….watch it, see it, predict it, beleive it,, witness it, it will happen fouls baby this is finals, wade will get his REAL foul calls he will not flop all will be real bababy

    • peopleplease says:

      harden is not clutch, just kidding, he is all automatic not stick shift… no shifting or anything…. watch him get drove by wade… and his big “””””flops””””” aka real fouls

    • OKCKD35 says:

      first off it will be either Thabo or Westbrook guarding Wade for most of the game (until the 4th quater) learn your matchups before you ramble garbage.