NBA Playoff X-Factors – West

Which players are willing to guard baseline to baseline? Which play to the final buzzer. These are the Western Conference X-Factors.


Houston Rockets

44-28, 4th in West
Season: 40-24
Bubble: 4-4

Playoff Match-Up: (5) Oklahoma City Thunder

Sean: PJ Tucker

  • Pj Tucker embodies the same indefinable traits as Marcus Smart or Patrick Beverley. The “sneaker king” is a 245 lb load of force in a 6’4 frame. He is invaluable for what the Rockets do. He’s the de facto center for them and that alone makes him an X-factor. 
  • The Rockets ability to play small is directly related to the impact PJ has on the court.  He’s not going to put up numbers or make any flashy plays but you can always count on him to do the dirty work.  He’s a strong defender who’s always in the right spot and is stout enough to stand his ground against larger players. On offense, he spaces the floor in the corners leaving room for Harden and Westbrook to do their thing. He’s often in the mix to clean up misses and grab timely rebounds as well. Simply put, the Rockets would not be able to play the way they do without PJ Tucker.

James: Robert Covington

  • If you haven’t made it this far and don’t notice a trend. Defense wins games and I love players who make defensive their main priority. Robert Covington does just that and is a versatile defender at that.
  • A guy who can guard multiple positions, rebound the basketball, and get after it when it gets gritty. That’s Covington to a T. As if 1.6 steals and 2.2 blocks isn’t a good enough testament to what he’s putting out. Do I need to say more ?
  • Offensively, the Rockets find themselves leaning toward him at times when they can’t seem to find the bottom of the net. Anyone who has watched Covington knows he doesn’t lose confidence. He might shoot himself out of games at times, but he picks things right back up when it matters and most of all he keeps shooting his shots.

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One response to “NBA Playoff X-Factors – West”

  1. Samwise Avatar

    Kuuuuuuuuz!!! Y’all agreed a lot more on the West vs East. Interesting

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