To honor such clutch players, we are taking a look at the best closers from this postseason.
Criteria for determining the list below includes performance in key games (such as advancing/avoiding elimination), fourth quarter play, the “clutch” statistic as well as game-winning and buzzer-beating shots.
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10. Jeff Teague
His team got knocked out in the first round, but without Jeff Teague, the Hawks would never have challenged the one-seeded Pacers. The point guard carried Atlanta on his shoulders, draining big shots and getting his teammates, which included multiple role players, involved in the action.
In a Game 3 win to give the Hawks a 2-1 series lead, Teague terrified the Pacers, dropping 22 points and adding 10 dimes to reach the double-double. He also created for his teammates, and assisted on four of Kyle Korver’s made field goals, three of them three-pointers.
9. Nicolas Batum
Though he often gets overlooked due to Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, his team’s star-power duo, Nicolas Batum is one of the most significant pieces to the present and future of the Blazers. In Monday night’s elimination game against the San Antonio Spurs, it was the French-native who kept his team alive. He scored 14 points and added 14 huge rebounds, all the while slowing Tony Parker for the first time all series. He’s important. And he knows it, too.
“Like we have said all along, I could be the key, the X-factor on this team,” Batum said following the victory. “And I feel tonight, I had an effect on the game both ways.”
NBA Writer Chris Palmer may have put it best last month when he summed up Batum in six words.
He is probably also the best teammate on the planet: