Detroit Pistons teams of recent years had a rather annoying trait. They would play well for what seemed like the first three quarters, then lay down like a lame duck in the fourth quarter. We would normally call this 4QC, or fourth quarter collapse. ESPN put out an image Wednesday on the Golden State Warriors and how clutch they are this year. Fourth on that list? The Pistons:
Safe to say the Warriors have been clutch this season. pic.twitter.com/z8u6PkpRs9— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 31, 2016
As the picture shows, those are the plus/minus numbers when there are only five minutes left in the game and the score is within five points. The picture, nor the tweet, specify where the data was obtained from. But a good guess would be from Elias. I can't seem to find a way to access their data, so instead, I'll use what I can.
Using stats.nba.com, I was able to find that the Pistons have had 33 games within five points in the final five minutes and have scored 335 points, tied for tenth most overall. The Pistons have a 20-13 record and have the fourth best winning percentage in those games. By comparison, the Pistons were 14-25 (26th) in 2014-15, 15-24 (26th) in 2013-14, and 13-25 (28th) in 2012-13. It seems that the days of the 4QC are primarily behind us. However, the stats on stats.nba.com seem to be a little different compared to the image ESPN shared.
Simply sorting the team stats data in the Clutch section of their website, it appears the Pistons are the second most clutch team in the league. The filters used on stats.nba.com are Totals, 5 Point Diff or Less, Ahead or Behind, Last 5 Minutes. Based on those filters, the Golden State Warriors have a plus/minus of 115 points in 30 games, the Pistons have a plus/minutes of 66 points in 33 games. If you look at points scored per game in that time frame, the Pistons are tied for third (behind the Dallas Mavericks and Warriors) at 10.2 points per game.
If you look at the Pistons quarter-by-quarter plus/minus numbers, it is rather revealing. Over the course of the season, the Pistons are plus-11 in the first quarter and plus-8 in the second quarter. The second half is a completely different story. The Pistons are minus-83 in the third quarter. But thank goodness the games are four quarters (or more). In the fourth quarter, they are a whopping plus-114. Throw in overtime periods and they are plus-124.
Reggie Jackson, by a narrow margin, is still the best clutch scorer in the NBA. On a per game basis, Jackson scores 4.8 points per game in those five in five situations, just barely beating out Stephen Curry at 4.7 points per game. Jackson is also shooting the ball better that Curry from three in those situations, 46.2-percent to Curry's 45.7-percent. Jackson is scoring more because he's taking more shots than Curry (3.4 to 2.6), and Curry is taking more threes (1.3 to 0.8), but still...
Of course, these are not exactly the situations the Pistons want to be in as often as they are. Stan Van Gundy has stated he wants the team to be more consistent throughout the entire game, as the inconsistent play throughout games has undoubtedly cost them some wins. But one can't argue that if the Pistons are in a pinch, they have shown a great propensity to get out of it with a win.
How do you feel about the Pistons play in the fourth quarter?