NBA Playoff X-Factors – East

Who’s willing to put their body on the line to win a playoff game? To do the dirty work? These are the Eastern Conference X-factors.


4

Indiana Pacers

45-28, 4th in East
Season: 39-26
Bubble: 6-2

Playoff Match-Up: (5) Miami Heat

Sean: Malcolm Brogdon

  • TJ Warren will get the hype (and attention from Jimmy Butler), but Brogdon is the straw that stirs the Pacers drink.  With Warren playing like an All-Star and Victor Oladipo back in the fold, the responsibility falls on Brogdon to facilitate.  
  • The 4th year guard is averaging a career-high in points and assists with the Pacers (16ppg and 7apg). His ability to run the offense and get his own shot will be huge against a Miami team that likes to wreak havoc on the perimeter. If Brogdon can beat his man off the dribble and continue to make the right decisions, the Pacers will be a hard team to guard.

James: TJ Warren

  • If you’ve read my previous article on TJ Warren, then you knew this was coming. Despite a few setbacks in the bubble, Warren has been on an offensive tear and that will continue as the playoffs begin. Adding another scorer to Indiana’s roster is dangerous.
  • Warren couldn’t have come at a better time as Indiana was gasping for air to find a sense of motivation to play for this season. With Oladipo still getting into the swing of things, and Sabonis out, this Pacer team is not all focused on Warren. Although he’s looked at as an X-Factor I also worry that all this pressure could scare him away.
  • My colleague has presented Malcolm Brogdon as his X-Factor, but if Warren can keep this high intensity in the flavoring category it can definitely win a few playoff games and potentially get them past the Heat in the first round….potentially.

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