Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Clutch play marks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's standout season

How has the Kia MVP & Clutch Player of the Year finalist done his crunch time scoring?

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder deliver a disciplined performance in Game 1 victory over the Pelicans.

• Download the NBA App >

This article was pulled from our Starting 5 Newsletter, a daily look at all things NBA. To get the newsletter in your inbox every morning, subscribe here.

The Thunder led by 10 early in the 4th quarter. Then the drought began.

OKC went more than five minutes without making a shot, as New Orleans used an 18-6 run to take a two-point lead with under two minutes to play.

A Game 1 win for the No. 1 seed was slipping away.

But Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t going to let it happen.

In a minute, Gilgeous-Alexander shook loose from defensive standout Herb Jones to tie the game with a contested 20-footer … then, with all eyes on him, split the defense to hit a 13-footer And-1 to give OKC the lead for good.

Watched the plays? Good. Because those two shots illustrate why Gilgeous-Alexander — a finalist for the Kia MVP — was also named a finalist for Kia Clutch Player of the Year, which will be awarded on Thursday.

  • Gilgeous-Alexander has delivered in closing moments all season long, finishing the regular season with 112 points on 58.1/35.7/89.7 shooting splits, while adding 19 assists to just six turnovers
  • OKC went 23-11 in SGA’s 34 clutch games, outscoring opponents by 68 points in his 107 clutch minutes

Remember those clutch shots from Sunday? The midrange pullup and a floater in the paint?

Now look at Gilgeous-Alexander’s clutch shot chart compared to the other two finalists – Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan – as each had different methods for creating clutch buckets

  • While Curry (189 pts) and DeRozan(182 pts) have the edge in total points thanks to taking (and making) more shots than SGA, neither shot the ball better than Shai
  • Clutch True Shooting Pct: SGA 70.7%, Curry 69.0%, DeRozan 62.5%

What’s in store tonight when OKC hosts New Orleans in Game 2? Find out on TNT at 9:30 p.m. ET.