The NBA is known for its buzzer beaters and game winners but that is only a part of the late-game execution that goes into winning close contests. Just getting to that point can be hard to do with the steady increase in scoring league-wide, making it harder for one team to keep pace with another on any given night.
That being said, there are plenty of close games and the NBA defines clutch as games where one team is ahead or down by five points within the final five minutes. With most teams having played at least 35 games, each has played at least a dozen that qualify as clutch.
While that is a smaller sample size, it is surprisingly revealing when it comes to which teams play better during tighter games and which ones could struggle in the playoffs when there are fewer blowouts. So far, one conference has played more close games, resulting in tightly packed standings and a wide open conference as a result.
Next, we'll take a look at the Eastern Conference and see how the standings would look if they were based on teams' records in clutch situations.