The NBA Playoffs are just around the corner right after the eight seeding games that the 22 teams have to go through before the postseason.
The NBA Playoffs picture is more or less set based on the current standings of the teams in their brackets. Only disastrous eight seeding game performances can shake up the picture. The Playoffs are a marathon. Teams have to win 16 games in total for them to reach the pinnacle of NBA success.
Playoff teams usually trim down their rosters for a more concrete approach in the games. As such, they need reliable players to perform game after game consistently. However, teams do also rely on their X factors to catch their opponents off guards. Below are three of the most promising X factors that could change the shape of the Playoffs.
Kristaps Porzingis and the Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have been a pleasant surprise this year. Under the guidance of head coach Rick Carlisle, the team has gelled with Luka Doncic and Porzingis leading the pack. There were concerns regarding the Latvian center’s health entering this season. However, the injuries are behind him, and he’s looking great. Carlisle said,
“The additional weight that he put on over those 18-19 months of rehab gradually tapers away. Right now, I can tell you that he looks great. I love the way that he is moving. He is moving great and has been really aggressive in his workouts both on the floor and in the weight room.”
If Porzingis goes back to his form when he was in the Knicks uniform, he will be a headache for opposing fours or fives. Also, he’s improved in his outside shooting, which, if he can drain consistently, may just cause a huge upset against their possible first matchup, the Los Angeles Clippers.
J.R Smith in the Purple and Gold
Smith needed redemption after his Finals blunder with Lebron James in Cleveland. He now gets this opportunity to assist James yet again for another title run. J.R. Smith is capable of streaky shooting and reliable ball handling. He will most likely come off the bench for the Lakers and will fill in any scoring holes in the lineup.
If Smith plays consistently and smartly in the Playoffs. He just might be the X factor that the Lakers have been looking for all season long. Considering the dominance of Lebron James and Anthony Davis on the floor, Smith only had to ready to catch and shoot the ball to fulfill his crucial role in the team.
Healthy Portland Trailblazers
Had it not been for the injuries earlier this season, the Trailblazers would not be finding themselves on the brink of elimination. The past four months of hiatus has provided them a lifeline, and it will be up to them if they’ll use it properly or not.
Earlier reports say that Jusuf Nurkic will be back in the lineup completely healthy. They will also get Zach Collins back. The duo of Nurkic and Collins hasn’t been tested yet, but the two players are capable of performing at a high-level. Nurkic will need to shake off the rust of a broken leg, and the eight seeding games might not be enough for him to regain his shape.
Nonetheless, a healthy Portland Trailblazers team is a scary team to face in the Playoffs. They just have to find their way to the eighth spot to prove their X factor.
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