FanPost

Steve Blake - clutch or unclutch?

After yesterday's game, I expect the discussion if Steve is the point guard of the future for the Blazers to regain full speed and continue leading up to the draft and the off-season. Part of that would be the question if he can come through in big moments when it matters, making the huge shot (or pass. Or other action). I think he can and has proven that time and again both in college and the NBA, but he isn't flawless (who is).

Did he feel the need to lead by example once Roy had to leave with his sixth foul? Maybe he will give an answer to that in the next days why he took a shot that most people would agree was a bad choice going up from full speed and 27 feet against Brooks - who didn't touch him - with well over ten seconds on the clock (see Dave's recap for a colorful description). On the next attempt after this ill-advised hieve he did make the three-point shot, so there should be little doubt he has the ability and felt like he needs to take this one. Also not to forget: He made the assist that led to Rudy's impossible three in the corner to give the Blazers a last hope.

That being said here is some evidence for and against Steve's "clutchness".

1. Clutch: Winning the game?

Example: Go-ahead three-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play gave the Trail Blazers a 98-97 win against the Toronto Raptors this season. Rudy saves a rebound, pass to Blake, Steve dribbles, stops on a dime and drains it over Calderon.

Stats: In 2008-09 with 4th quarter or overtime and less than 5 minutes left and neither team ahead by more than 5, he added 12.1 points per 48 minutes (of those minutes) according to 82games.com. With a FG% of 35.7 and a 3P% of 29.4 and a FT% of 64%. Decent, but far from amazing (Roy produced 42 points in those situations, shooting 47.5%, bad 18% from three and 91% from the line). As a comparison to 2007-08 he improved slightly from 11.9 points with a FG% of 31.8 and a 3P% of 25%. (Roy 31.7 points). 82games.com

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2. Clutch: In-game shots

Example: Many big shots during the course of the season in-game. Not the big "buzzer beating game winner", but still highly important shots to keep the Blazers in the action often with the shot clock running down. When Steve gets the pass open in the corner or at the top, it's often a bucket. Not many (point) guards deliver like that.

Stats: #6 among point guards for the season in 3P% at 42.7%. 328 attempts, 140 makes. In the playoffs currently tied for #5 with 40% (6 of 15).

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3. Clutch: Impossible half-court shots

Example: Bobcats 2007. Spurs 2009 "Haier Play of the Day" on April 09 to fuel a big comeback.

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4. Clutch/Unclutch: Free throws

Example: In a game against the Clippers this season, went on to miss four of five attempts in the final minutes before Baron Davis sent the game to overtime with a 3-pointer (where the Blazers lost). Blake went into the game having made 31 of 33 free throws over the Blazers' first 24 games.

Stats: 84% free throw percentage over the regular season (63 of 75). Only 64% in the final 5 minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime (see above for 82games clutch stats) - largely thanks to this one game. Last season he was 100% here.

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5. Unclutch: Playoff game winner attempt

Example: Yesterday. D'oh!

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Your turn:

Other examples you can remember of Steve coming through - or choking? Better statistics? A big play that doesn't show up in the boxscore? I think it would help to try and focus the discussion on Steve's abilities, not so much which other point guard on the team (hint: likely none) or elsewhere would be more clutch in your opinion. I understand yesterday's game heavily colors the perception and without this turn of events I wouldn't write this post, but be fair.

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