NBA standings based on crunch-time performance: Which team is most clutch?

Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards
Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards / David Berding/GettyImages
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1. Milwaukee Bucks: 14-5

2. Indiana Pacers: 10-5

3. Boston Celtics: 11-6

4. Orlando Magic: 11-7

5. Miami Heat: 10-8

6. Chicago Bulls: 9-8

7. Brooklyn Nets: 8-8

8. New York Knicks: 7-7

9. Charlotte Hornets: 8-10

10. Philadelphia 76ers: 5-7

11. Toronto Raptors: 9-13

12. Cleveland Cavaliers: 7-11

13. Atlanta Hawks: 8-14

14. Washington Wizards: 2-10

15. Detroit Pistons: 2-15

The top four of the Eastern Conference in terms of traditional standings vary when looking at team records based on performance late in games. The Bucks have been better than expected in the clutch, while the Celtics have been a bit pedestrian in that regard despite having a loaded roster.

The Sixers, despite exceeding expectations and being third in the East, are 10th in the conference in terms of late-game record. In their defense, they've played the fewest of those games in the NBA, suggesting that they have been winning more comfortably.

On the other hand, the 76ers have not responded well in close games thus far, suggesting that they could have problems in the postseason. Contrast that with the Pacers, who are the big overperformers in these rankings. They boast the second-best record in the clutch in the East and fifth-best overall despite being the seventh seed.

That no doubt helped them make the In-season Tournament Final, and they are in the mix for a top-4 seed. Another big outlier is the Cavaliers, who are in a four-way tie in the East for the fifth spot but are 12th in clutch performance. That puts them in the same company as the Hawks, who have been bad enough that they are considering tanking. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have been relatively good in crunch time considering that they have the seventh-worst record in the NBA. While 9-13 isn't amazing, they have played much closer to the level of a play-in tournament team than a tanking team.

That is likely due to their having more talent than, say, the Pistons. The Pistons have the worst record in both categories and that's probably why they are looking for veteran help. Next, we'll take a look at the West.