Game two between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers of the 2013 NBA Playoffs was the epitome of excellence on the basketball court.
Tie game. 10 seconds left. Home team has the ball. 20,000 fans in the Staples Center are on their feet in anticipation.
Everybody knows the ball will be in Chris Paul's hands. Everybody knows Grizzlies ace defender Tony Allen will be guarding Paul on the final possession.
The stage is set. Playoff basketball at its finest.
Tony Allen forces Chris Paul to go to the teeth of the defense. Several Grizzlies are awaiting Paul on his drive to the basket. Nevertheless, CP3 makes a tough shot to win it for the Clippers at the buzzer!
Do you want to be like Chris Paul in crunch time? Here are five tips to help you become a clutch player like CP3.
To take over the game in crunch time and give your team a chance to win, you need five offensive threats:
Threat #1: Beat Defenders off the Dribble
If the ball is going to be in your hands at the end of the game, you must be able to beat your man off the dribble.
You cannot be a threat to score if you're unable to put the ball on the ground and make a move to get past your opponent. You need to be a great ball handler in order to beat your opponent off the dribble.
Generally, it's best for you to master two or three "go-to" moves.
For example, your primary go-to move might be the crossover while your counter move might be the in/out move (otherwise known as a fake crossover). Be sure to practice these moves every single day. Learn to change speeds with those two dribble moves and you will be unstoppable.
Threat #2: Outside Shot
If the defense backs off, you must be able to knock down a shot. Chances are the defense will allow you to take an outside shot. You must have the confidence to hit the shot when it matters most.
Threat #3: Pull-up Jump Shot
With the game winding down, the opposing defense will focus on not allowing you to attack the basket. They might sag off of you to try to cut off any penetration angles.
If this happens, you must be able to counter with your pull-up or step-back jumper.
A pull-up is a very effective way to get your shot off in rhythm. If you think your pull-up might get blocked, a step back is an excellent way to get your shot off against bigger defenders. You need to be able to hit it from anywhere within 3-point range in order for this threat to exist.
Threat #4: Finishing Move in the Lane
If you're not a threat to finish in the lane or at the basket, teams will just play your jump shot and take that away. All great players have finishing moves they can use near the basket.
You could use a runner, a floater, a pro hop, a jump stop with half hook, step through footwork, a eurostep, or even Steve Nash's quick jump layup as finishing moves.
You need to master one or two finishing moves. Once you master the moves, you must practice them in competitive situations (1-on-1, 1-on-2, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, etc). Just make sure to pick a finishing move that best suits your athletic ability.
Threat #5 Pass to an Open Teammate
You cannot be a threat to score in crunch time if you're unable to pass the ball and hit an open teammate. If you cannot or will not pass the ball, the opponent will immediately triple-team you—and it will be very difficult for you to get a high-percentage shot off in crunch time.
When you're double or triple teamed, you need to pass the ball to the open man. If the defense knows that you're a threat to pass, your defender will give you more room to operate because he respects your passing ability, and he will need to cut off the passing lane.
This space might give you an opportunity to use your pull-up jumper. It might also give you a chance to attack the basket.
Great players cannot be stopped because they're always a threat to pass, shoot outside, drive, or finish in the lane. The defense just can't stop them. Their opponent is forced to pick their poison and live with the results.
CP3, Steve Nash, LebBon James and Kobe Bryant are all so great with the ball in their hands at crunch time because they have mastered all five offensive threats.