Top Clutch Performances of the Week
It's that time of the week again. A wonderful time at Bleacher Report when we check out the top clutch performances of the past seven days.
This time around, the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final take precedent, but there's also Major League Baseball, a historic first in tennis and a Copa America debut for the ages.
Start clicking away, because it's time to revisit the top 10 clutch performances of the week.
Draymond Green Takes Control
Who: Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green
When: June 5, Game 2 of the NBA Finals
The Golden State Warriors did what they had to do. They went out and dominated the first two games of the NBA Finals, successfully defending their home court as a result.
Game 2 belonged to Draymond Green. Often left out of the superstar discussion because of the incredible play of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Green went out of his way to shred the Cleveland Cavaliers at every turn.
Green’s 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists boosted his team to a 110-77 victory over the Cavs. It was a complete performance by an unsung Golden State hero.
"Green shot 11-for-20 and made 5-of-8 three-pointers, sparking a suggestion he might apply to be a Splash Brother alongside fellow All-Stars Curry and Thompson," ESPN.com mentioned in its postgame recap.
Clutch performances don't get much better than Green's showing in Game 2.
Joonas Donskoi Nets an Overtime Winner
Who: San Jose Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi
When: June 4, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final
The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins series isn't going according to plan if you're on the Sharks' side of the equation. Down 3-1, the Sharks will have to overcome serious odds if they want to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.
But in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, winger Joonas Donskoi broke through and put the Sharks on the board. Tied 2-2 in the middle of overtime, Donskoi sunk a ridiculous wrap-around shot while battling through traffic.
Faced with the prospect of his team going down 3-0, Donskoi stepped up, and his timely game-winning goal was more than enough to qualify for this week's list.
Carlos Beltran Puts Away the Los Angeles Angels
Who: New York Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran
When: June 6 vs. Los Angeles Angels
It hasn't been a perfect 2016 for the New York Yankees—the team currently sits at 28-30—but at times, they do look competitive.
After falling behind 2-0 early in their June 6 clash with the Los Angeles Angels, the Bronx Bombers turned up the heat. Brian McCann and Starlin Castro both belted solo shots in the seventh inning to tie things up.
That led to veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran opening up the game the following inning with a three-run, 348-foot home run. The Yankees went up 5-2 and never looked back.
Winning close games with clutch hitting will be the difference between this team making a postseason run or fading away during the summer months. Hopefully, Beltran will remain a catalyst on that front.
Matt Murray Helps Ice the San Jose Sharks
Who: Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray
When: June 6, Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final
The Pittsburgh Penguins have done a remarkable job of closing out games in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 4 of the series was a testament to that.
Rookie goaltender Matt Murray has been a big reason why the Penguins have been able to best the Sharks so consistently. His winning effort in Game 4 helped the Penguins throttle the Sharks, 3-1. With the young goalie in net, the Sharks were held to one goal on 24 shot attempts, per the NHL's official box score.
According to ESPN Stats & Information's recap, Murray is now one win away from tying the record for most wins by a rookie goaltender in postseason history. Not bad for a 22-year-old who made his NHL debut in December.
John Millman Moves on in the ATP Mercedes Cup
Who: John Millman
When: June 6, ATP Mercedes Cup vs. Lucas Pouille
With the French Open in the rear-view mirror, it's easy for fans to wait it out until Wimbledon comes around at the end of June. But hardcore tennis addicts know the ATP Mercedes Cup is also a wonderful opportunity to watch some of the world's best duel.
John Millman took home match-of-the-week honors after going head-to-head with Lucas Pouille.
The match turned into an arduous battle between two competitors. After falling behind 7-6 in the opening set, Millman battled on, showcasing the will to carry on. He would take the remaining two sets, 6-3, 6-4, respectively, per the ESPN box score, moving onto the next round.
Believe it or not, excellent tennis isn't exclusive to the top 10 players in the world. As the ATP's No. 66-ranked competitor, Millman proved that to be true with a clutch performance.
Rougned Odor Shines in the Lone Star State
Who: Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor
When: June 6 vs. Houston Astros
Historically, the battle for Texas supremacy in the American League West has not gone the Houston Astros' way. The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) noted the the lopsided nature of this rivalry, pointing out that the Texas Rangers "are 7-0 this season against the Astros."
Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor helped his team tack on another win with two clutch hits late in their June 6 contest.
The first came in the form of a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. Odor's rip allowed Nomar Mazara to score, tying the game at five runs apiece. When he returned to the dish in the bottom of the ninth, Odor sliced an RBI double deep into left field, which freed up Adrian Beltre to trot home for the winning run.
Odor's timely hitting has helped keep the Rangers atop their division.
Blas Perez Sparks Panama's First Copa America Run
Who: Panama forward Blas Perez
When: June 6 vs. Bolivia
Panama's first-ever Copa America game started off with a bang. Led by the scoring aptitude of veteran forward Blas Perez, the country took down Bolivia, 2-1.
It was all about the 35-year-old forward. His two goals fueled a remarkable run by Panama.
The goal we'll remember most is the game-winning snipe in the 87th minute of play. Facing a 1-1 stalemate, Perez knocked the ball into the back of an open net, thanks to an assist from Abdiel Arroyo.
For Panama, it was a historic win. As the Associated Press pointed out (via the Los Angeles Times), "Panama became the first non-CONMEBOL team to win its Copa America debut."
Perez deserves credit for leading Panama to such a milestone.
Shaun Livingston Guides the Golden State Warriors' Bench to Victory
Who: Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston
When: June 4, Game 1 of the NBA Finals
You'd think championships would be decided strictly by superstars, but that's not always the case—see Andre Iguodala's MVP statue from last season's NBA Finals.
When it became obvious Game 1 of the Finals wasn't tailor-made for guys like Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry—between the two of them, the Splash Brothers managed to score to 20 points—the Golden State Warriors had to look elsewhere.
Luckily for this team, backup guard Shaun Livingston had a big night, guiding the Warriors to a 104-89 victory. His 20 points were further enhanced by his striking defensive abilities.
Livingston is the opposite of the Splash Brothers in terms of his approach to the game. Tom Ziller of SB Nation talked about how the veteran guard attempted 12 three-point shots all season.
But it works. He's found a niche with the Warriors, and Game 1 was proof that despite a lack of flashiness, Livingston remains an indispensable member of this 73-win team.
Matt Joyce's Blasts His Former Team
Who: Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Matt Joyce
When: June 4 vs. Los Angeles Angels
Being a pinch hitter has its benefits. Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Matt Joyce found that out after he blasted a pinch-hit, three-run homer against the Los Angeles Angels.
The June 4 showdown between the Pirates and Angels was done after Joyce stepped to the dish in the seventh inning. His three-run shot pushed the lead to 8-3, and the Angels would come up short despite a late rally.
A final tally of 8-7 proved Joyce's worth this season. In 76 at-bats, he's hitting .303 with six home runs and 22 RBI. How's that for a pinch hitter?
Novak Djokovic Wins His First French Open
Who: Novak Djokovic
When: June 5, French Open Final vs. Andy Murray
It was a long time coming, but Novak Djokovic finally got his triumphant moment on the clay courts of Roland Garros.
After falling behind 6-3 in the opening set to Andy Murray, Djokovic changed the entire complexion of the match. His focus, power, touch and consistency were put on full display.
Djokovic throttled Murray from that point on, going up 6-1, 6-2 and 6-4. Looks like there's a reason why he's ranked No. 1 in the world.
This win has paved the way for Djokovic to go for the coveted Grand Slam in 2016, as David Waldstein of the New York Times touched on.
"The next attainable milestone is something even [Roger] Federer has not achieved: the Grand Slam. The last man to do it was Rod Laver, in 1969, and no one since Jim Courier in 1992 has gotten through the French Open with two of the four Grand Slam singles titles," Waldstein wrote.
Djokovic will need a continuous string of clutch, big-time performances in order to achieve such a feat.
All stats and information via Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.