Pressure creates diamonds and NBA playoff pressure can lift good players to a great level as difference makers, key to winning a series. The Indiana Pacers need that type of X-factor stepping up in the first round to make a difference against the Atlanta Hawks.
David West, Paul George and Roy Hibbert don't count in this equation. If that trio doesn't play at a high level, the Pacers are in more trouble than any X-factor can fix. But you can look to George Hill, Lance Stephenson and the bench as strong candidates for lifting the Pacers
Mark Montieth at Pacers.com gave Stephenson the nod as the Pacers X-factor for the physical style of play and ability to push the ball up the floor. Plus, the numbers don't lie, the Pacers have been good all year when Lance is on the floor. Against the Hawks, Stephenson's matchup with Devin Harris creates a contrast that will favor one team. Stephenson could physically overwhelm the smaller Harris to give the Pacers a boost. Or Harris, with his veteran savvy and quicks, could live in the lane to produce buckets for himself of teammates.
Ben Golliver at SI.com thinks George Hill is the X-factor since the Hawks will have to focus more on West and George which should give Hill opportunities to score. If Hill can provide that third scoring threat from the perimeter and add a couple of 20-point games to the series, the Pacers will benefit greatly.
I agree with Hill as the X-factor, not just as an additional scorer but for his overall game. He's quite familiar with playing against Jeff Teague and winning that point guard matchup would be huge. I still consider Lance like house money. Big contributions are a bonus, but hard to rely on. The Pacers need to rely on Hill for a deep playoff run, and even moreso to beat the Hawks.
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