The above charts each NBA team’s winning percentage in games decided by three points or less, since the Nets moved to Brooklyn in the 2012-13 season. Atop the list, surprisingly enough, is the Nets — who have won 27 of 35 close games, the best of any NBA team by a wide margin.
I know what you’re saying. “Sure, that’s just because Joe Johnson AKA Armadillo Cowboy AKA Joe Jesus hit 35,000 game-winners in the first two years!” That’s true, but this year the Nets have been their best in “close” games, going 10-1 this season. That’s still the best in the NBA.
Here’s the full list, if you’re curious:
Since the 2012-13 season.
You’ll also see that the other New York team bookends the list — the Knicks have won just 7 of 28 close games in the last three years. This year alone, they’re still the worst NBA team in close games at 1-7, with their lone close win coming back on November 2nd against the Charlotte Hornets.
On a related note, the Nets beat the Knicks 100-98 on Wednesday.
There’s more nuance to be found here — if you expand the criteria to within five points, the results would be different, and the Nets have found themselves in more close games than they need to be. There’s also the argument that the winners of close games are largely random and even out over time, and that a team’s net rating in crunch time is more indicative of their success. If you can turn a three-point game with four minutes left into a ten-point game, that’s a stronger indicator of ability than a team that keeps it close throughout.
But given Johnson’s crunch-time heroics in the first two years and some surprise wins this season, the Nets like to make it interesting — and in each season, they’ve dominated when they do.