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.
Check out the links:
Pacers eager to get fresh start in playoffs - AP
Turning to A.D. for answers on the Pacers - 1070 The Fan
Q&A: Pacers Coach Frank Vogel on the Playoffs, His Defensive Player of the Year, and the Psycho T Art of 'Pounding People' - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
Star reporter Mike Wells and former Pacer Jeff Foster breakdown the team's top-ranked defense heading into the postseason | Indianapolis Star | indystar.com
Q&A: Roy Hibbert on His Challenging Season, His Parks and Rec Pals, and Hating Tyler Hansbrough - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
NBA Playoff Preview: Hawks face off with the Pacers in the first round - Peachtree Hoops
Ball Don’t Lie’s 2012-13 Playoff Previews: Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo! Sports
X-factors for all 16 teams in NBA playoffs | The Point Forward - SI.com
Run Lance Run - Stephenson Could be X-Factor in Playoffs | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE INDIANA PACERS
Pacers-Hawks playoff preview: Five key factors. - Sheridanhoops.com
Playoff Preview: Pacers-Hawks series breakdown - Indy Sports Legends
Doug Collins out as 76ers coach, will remain with team - NBA - SI.com
Byron Scott fired as coach of Cleveland Cavaliers | ProBasketballTalk
Detroit Pistons fire Lawrence Frank as coach - NBA News | FOX Sports on MSN
Stephen Jackson says disagreement with Popovich over how good a player S-Jax is | ProBasketballTalk
PBT NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers | ProBasketballTalk