The Indiana Pacers don’t always need Victor Oladipo to close out games this season, but when he is called on, he delivers.
The Indiana Pacers put another win in the bank on Friday thanks to another game-winning shot from Victor Oladipo. It wasn’t the first time the Chicago Bulls were on the wrong end an Oladipo clutch bucket, either.
It’s just what is expected of Oladipo now. Get the ball in their All-Star guard’s hands and let him go to work. It doesn’t need to be a good shot, even, because Oladipo will find a way to score.
Indiana expects him to close games in a way few stars in the NBA are capable of. As ESPN Stats and Information highlighted, perhaps no one is more productive in the last five minutes of close games this season.
When you use the NBA’s default for “clutch” situations — the last five minutes of games with the score within 5 points — Oladipo ranks 1st in field goal percentage, 2nd in clutch points per a game, and a categorically-insane +33.9 net rating, meaning he outscores opponents by 34 points per 100 possessions in these clutch situations.
All of those stats illuminate the fact that he is one of the best, but they do a disservice in some ways because those are per game stats, which don’t account for the volume of his clutch time moments. Not to mention they don’t factor in the month that Oladipo missed with a sore knee.
One would expect that looking at the statistical totals would hurt Oladipo since he missed 11 games. But by expecting that, you’re underestimating Oladipo. Despite playing nearly half as many minutes as the other leaders, he is in the top of the league in clutch stats.
Victor Oladipo is 5th in points scored with 72, he’s made the 7th most field goals and the 2nd most 3-pointers. He is 15th in assists, 16th in steals, and all while only committing two turnovers.
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To top in all of, Oladipo’s outscored opponents by 44 points in his 50 minutes of clutch time. He dominates in clutch time, period.
Even when you shrink the clutch time down to the final minute, Oladipo remains one of, if not the best as he makes 66.7 percent of his shots and an unbelievably good 77.8% 3-point shooter.
You might be wondering if the Pacers just have played a lot of close games and forced Oladipo to work hard in those limited minutes. After all, they are 13-6 in games with clutch time situations. But Indiana played the 5th fewest games with clutch time. In spite of that, Indiana’s +/- of 50 is tops in the NBA.
When things get tight, the Pacers have delivered, Oladipo in particular.
It doesn’t hurt Indiana’s had one of the easiest schedules in the NBA. But with a 19-3 record against sub-.500 teams, they’ve clearly taken care of business against the league’s lesser teams. Their 6-7 record against teams with .500 or better records is worth noting, but they’ve played most of those teams very closely.
So to paraphrase the Dos Equis slogan: Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers don’t always play close games, but when they do, they win