Kyrie Irving made waves in October with comments that Kevin Durant would be the first teammate he’d ever had who he trusted to make clutch shots in the fourth quarter. Irving was defensive about the backlash but there’s really no way to read that as anything but a dig at LeBron James.
Irving and Durant came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, looking to answer any criticism in their first actual run together. The Nets won their first two games by 20+ points, blowing out the Warriors and Celtics, with Irving and Durant pouring in points. But the Nets have now last four of their last five with three of those losses coming by five points or less. They’ve struggled in those clutch situations Irving was feeling so confident about and both stars missed game-winning opportunities in a single possession against the Wizards.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant miss clean looks and the Nets fall to Wizards 123-122.
The Nets are now 3-4 for the season 👀pic.twitter.com/F7iYu6h1dg
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 4, 2021
How are Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant performing in the clutch?
Irving and Durant have scored a combined 23 points in 28 clutch minutes so far this season, shooting a combined 6-of-17 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line, with 4 assists to just one turnover. Durant, in particular, has had a tough time from the field, shooting 1-of-6 and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Irving’s notable former teammates have been a mixed bag in the clutch this season. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have combined for 31 points in 46 clutch minutes, shooting 11-of-26 from the field. LeBron is 1-of-6 in eight minutes for the Lakers. Kevin Love has played eight clutch minutes for the Cavaliers, without attempting a shot.
It’s all fodder for trolling and none of it means much of anything. A clutch sample from five or six games is essentially meaningless from a predictive standpoint and studies have shown that there’s almost no correlation in clutch performance from year to year (a fancy way of saying good players are generally good regardless of the situation and clutch heroics are mostly random).
Suffice it to say, this won’t be the only time Irving or Durant will miss a big shot this year but there are plenty of makes coming as well.