Nets' Nic Claxton breaks Shaquille O'Neal free-throw futility record in Celtics sweep

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Nic Claxton's free throw misses certainly can't be blamed for Brooklyn's stunning 4-0 series sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.

But they didn't help.

The Nets forward surpassed Shaquille O'Neal in the NBA record books during Monday's Game 4 loss. And not in a good way. Claxton missed his first 10 free throws in the 116-12 loss, breaking the record for most free throws without a make to start a playoff game.

Per Turner Sports — O'Neal's employer — Shaq previously held the dubious record with eight straight misses at the stripe to start a 2006 playoff game. Claxton tied the record with his eighth miss on the front end of a pair of free throws early in the third quarter with Boston leading, 65-56. He then missed the back end to claim the record for his own.

He went on to miss a 10th straight before finally converting his first made free throw to cut Boston's lead to 73-67 with 6:17 remaining.

The make elicited a Bronx cheer from the Nets faithful — if such a thing can exist in Brooklyn, that is.

Would a few more makes have changed outcome?

That was the end of Claxton's night at the stripe, where he finished a woeful 1 of 11. Forget his place in the record book. In a four-point elimination playoff loss, those add up to some costly misses. For the game, the Celtics shot 18 of 22 (81.8%) from the line, while Claxton dragged Brooklyn's rate to 58.6% (17 of 29) for the game. It's not hard to do the math on how a few more makes from Claxton might have impacted the game.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 10: Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the first half against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on April 10, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Nic Claxton doesn't want this record. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images/file)

Claxton is generally a poor free-throw shooter. But his 58.1% success rate during the regular season was considerably better than his performance from the stripe in the postseason. Including the play-in game, he went 5 for 28 from the line, or 17.9%.

If there's any solace for Claxton, it's that his free-throw failures are at the back of the line for critics seeking a scapegoat for Brooklyn's historically disappointing playoff collapse. That list starts with much more prominent names, including Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Sean Marks, Steve Nash and Ben Simmons.

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