X-Factors Going Forward in Eastern Conference Finals
X-factors have been key for all teams in the NBA playoffs. The bubble has seen many players step up in roles they have not been accustomed to before the season was suspended. We have already gone over the x-factors in the Western Conference Finals, now it is time to go over who needs to step up in the Eastern Conference Finals. Just like before, we will not be including the stars of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat as they are too obvious. Without further adieu, here are four x-factors going forward in the East.
X-Factors in Eastern Conference Finals
X-Factor #1: Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart is the energy guy for the Boston Celtics. He takes on the task of guarding the opposition’s best player and isn’t afraid to have his voice heard, case in point his small blowup in the locker room after game two. He may be a bit streaky offensively, but considering the Celtics have three players averaging over 20 points per game, Smart can concentrate his efforts more towards the defensive end of the floor. The man made the All-Defensive Team this year for good reason and will be instrumental in slowing down the likes of Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro.
X-Factor #2: Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward is not the same All-Star as he was with the Utah Jazz. However, he is still an effective offensive presence. This season, Hayward tallied 17.5 points, 38.3 percent shooting from three-point land, and 50.0 percent shooting from the field in general. He has missed a good portion of the postseason, but his return will add another wrinkle to what is already a deadly Boston Celtics offense. Hayward can play the four in some small-ball scenarios, but he still thrives at his usual small forward position. Miami is going to have another above 15-point per game scorer to answer for if they wish to make it to the NBA Finals.
X-Factor #3: Tyler Herro
Tyler Herro may be a rookie, but he is looking like he has been here before as if he is an NBA veteran. The Kentucky product proved it with a 37-point outing to put Miami up three games to one in the series. He simply has that “it,” factor, or swagger that many young players are searching for in their early years. If you do not believe me, then check his playoff totals. In this year’s postseason, Herro has averaged 14.8 points, an uptick from his season average of 13.5 points per game, to go along with 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and an effective field goal percentage of 51.7 percent as of September 23rd. Herro is showing he can be a reliable third option behind Miami’s star duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in the bubble.
X-Factor #4: Duncan Robinson
Duncan Robinson has transformed into one of the deadliest deep-ball threats in the league before our very eyes. While Butler has struggled to hit shots beyond the arc this season (24.4 percent from three-point territory), it has not really come back to bite the Heat and a big reason is that Duncan Robinson has the makings of a future three-point shootout champion.
For the year, the 6’7 sharpshooter has shot 44.6 percent from downtown and is tallying a 40.9 percent clip in this category for the playoffs. Not to mention, Robinson also possesses playoff totals of 11.0 points and an effective field goal percentage of 62.5 percent as of September 23rd. He and Tyler Herro are two x-factors for the Heat that have been crucial in giving Miami a three to one series lead. However, the Celtics have a couple of x-factors of their own and will not go down without a fight. We will see which Eastern Conference heavyweight will prevail.
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