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Countdown: NBA’s Five Best Clutch Snipers

In NBA on April 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Last possession of a big playoff game, your team is down by 3.  Who do you want taking the last shot?  Well it obviously isn’t King James (I think we are all witnesses to that).  So lets countdown the five players I would want spotting up with the game on the line:

Honorable Mentions:  Dirk, Matt Bonner, Steve Nash, D-Wade, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Carmelo, Peja, D-Rose

5.  Kevin Durant

KD is 6’10 with a quick release, and ups his three point percentage from 35% during the regular season to 46% in the playoffs.  In Game 1 against Denver he went 3 for 6, and in Game 2 he was 3 for 7.  I’m not going to pretend that Durant has accomplished very much in his young career (no playoff series wins) but if I’m playing OKC and Durant gets a good look at the game winning/tying 3 against my team….I’m looking away from the TV because its probably going to splash.

4.  Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver wouldn’t have been on this list last year, and maybe not until this week.  Korver has always been deadly from downtown, but this year he has taken two big steps to land him at number 4.  KK has been building and showing flashes of clutch all year.  He led the NBA in 4th quarter 3’s during regular season this year.  Impressive.  What has he done since?  In Game 1 tied with under a minute to go, Kyle drains a spot up drive and kick 3 from the left wing to give the Bulls their first lead of the game.  Game 2?  Korver drops another game sealing dagger, this time from the right corner after a great pass from Noah.  Game 3 on the road?  Korver paces the Bulls struggling offense in the second half, with 12 points, 10 of them coming in the 4th quarter, both 3’s coming in the 4th, finishing 2×3 from downtown.  Korver rarely takes bad shots, can spot up or curl off screens, and he makes you pay for helping.  Why was Derrick Rose able to drive into the paint last night for the game winning lay-up?  Because the Pacers wouldn’t help off Korver who was ready to spot up on the left wing.  He kills you if you guard him, and he kills you if you don’t.

3.  Ray Allen

Do I need to get into stats with Jesus Shuttlesworth?  I didn’t think so.  Ray Allen is the all-time leader from deep for a reason, and if you need a refresher go look at what he did to the Knicks in Game 1.  Talk about ripping the heart out of your opponent.  Ballgame.

2.  Jason Kidd

J-Kidd isn’t a traditional three point shooter, and isn’t the first person you would have thought of on a list this short.  But this isn’t about a 3 point shootout, this is about having balls when the game is on the line, and Kidd has shown he can get it done.  Kidds regular season three point percentage?  34%.  His playoff three point percentage?  46%.  Have you ever seen a guy create space the way Kidd can without using the dribble?  Game 1 against Portland Jason Kidd comes out and knocks down 6 three pointers, including a dagger with 25 seconds left in the game.  Game 2?  Kidd goes 3-6 from downtown, 50% for you math majors at home.  In the only Dallas loss so far, playing catch-up Kidd hit the biggest shot of the 4th quarter last night that would have made it a one possession game, but it was ruled a 2.  Upon further review, they still ruled it a 2.  Upon further review, they got it wrong.  Jason Kidd is clutch from deep and as mentally tough as it gets, other than…..

1.  Kobe Bryant

Love him, hate him..whatever.  Kobe is an assassin.  I don’t need stats, a spreadsheet, or expert analysis to explain why Kobe tops this list.  Kobe has done it time and time again, most recently in game 82 to clinch the 2nd seed in the West, and once again rip the soul out of Sacramento.  All I’ve got to say is this:  Ask yourself – You have to pick one player to hit a shot with your life on the line that currently plays in the NBA.  You really going to go any other direction?  Its Kobe, and no one else is close.  (All-time life on the line?  1. MJ  2.Larry Bird  3.Kobe  357. LeBron)

(And with this article, LeBron will now sink 3 game winners in the Eastern Conference Finals against my Bulls, including Game 7.)

Bulls/Pacers Game 3 Update

In NBA on April 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm

The Chicago Bulls take a 2-0 series lead on the road tonight to the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  Even though 94% of home teams who go up 2-0 win the series, the Bulls can’t be happy with their first two games.  I’ll take a couple 5-6 point wins on the road, but at the United Center?  The Bulls had the best home record in the NBA this year and should be better against the 8th seed, although before the series started I said Indiana was going to be much tougher than people think. A scrappy, young division opponent is not something you want to see in the first round of any sport.

As of right now (1:30 pm) Darren Collison has been ruled a gametime decision according to K.C Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.  If Collison can’t go, AJ Price will get the start, and expect TJ Ford to see a lot of minutes.  In their final meeting of the regular season the Pacers beat the Bulls at Conseco Fieldhouse 115-108 in overtime.   Behind 42 points from Derrick Rose the Bulls were able to overcome a 20 point second half deficit, but the Pacers didn’t blink in overtime taking the lead for good.  Tyler Hansbrough, who has been impressive on the road in these Playoffs, had 29 points and 12 rebounds the last time these teams met in Indiana, while Danny Granger had 19.

Chicago has struggled to take control of either of the first two games from the get go.  It took 4th quarter surges, led by Rose and capped by Kyle Korver for Chicago to seal both games 1 and 2.  Korver, (the leader in 4th quarter 3 pointers) has been huge down the stretch for Chicago, and I would expect him to be out there late in close games from here on.  Though his defense is suspect at best, Korver hasn’t blinked in the clutch this season.  Carols Boozer bounced from a bad Game 1 with a strong performance in Game 2 dropping 17 points and 16 rebounds.  The Bulls will need Boozer to continue chipping in, especially on the road where Rose has had to carry much of the scoring load at crucial times this year.

My gut feeling is that the Pacers might win this game tonight.  I said before it started that this series wouldn’t be a sweep, and Game 3 is usually the best chance for the lower seed to win..(although as of yesterday there were still 2,000 seats open at Conseco Fieldhouse).  If Derrick Rose scores more than 32 points tonight, I think Indiana wins because it means the MVP isn’t getting help…again.  At 4.5 point favorites Vegas is thinking that on the road the Bulls will play better than they did at home, and the Pacers will play worse.  I don’t see it happening.

-Author: Dylan Austin