2012 NBA Playoffs: For the Utah Jazz, Who Is the X-Factor?

Andrew WallockContributor IApril 30, 2012

This picture says everything we need to know about Devin Harris' performance in Game 1.
This picture says everything we need to know about Devin Harris' performance in Game 1.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There was one thing apparent during San Antonio's rout of the Jazz on Sunday afternoon: San Antonio understands the playoffs. Utah just isn't there yet. 

Playing against a team with years of playoff experience and three titles in recent years, Utah just didn't produce on a level that could win them the game.

Overall, they played a decent game. But San Antonio played a fantastic game.

Led by All-Star point guard Tony Parker with 28 points, the Spurs completely overmatched Utah's backcourt. And San Antonio also got some help from the veteran Stephen Jackson, who chipped in 14 points off the bench.

Tim Duncan also had his way with the Jazz big men, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. San Antonio looked every bit like a team that has won multiple championships, while Utah just appeared happy to be in the playoffs. 

In the end, the Jazz were outhustled and outplayed by a fantastic effort from former NBA champions. One of the most glaring stats against the Jazz was the 31 point third quarter posted by the Spurs.

But who is the X-factor for this Jazz team? Which player is most important if the Jazz plan on making their way out of this series?

While it's improbable they will win this series, they still might be able to scratch some victories out of it and a heckuva lot of playoff experience. They are an up-and-coming team after all.

By far the most important piece to the Jazz roster during these playoffs is Devin Harris. He is the X-factor and the key cog if they hope to find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. And on Sunday, he looked nothing like the point guard that once made the All-Star Game as a member of the New Jersey Nets.

Contributing only 7 points and giving away 5 turnovers, Devin Harris was not even close to the player he's been in the final games of the regular season. Tony Parker recognized the weakness and completely dominated the Jazz point guard on both ends of the court.

The bright lights and pressure of the postseason seemed to affect Devin and he all but disappeared from the court. While Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, and Gordon Hayward contributed substantially to a fairly competitive game, Devin was nowhere to be found.

If Devin wants to shake off the doubters and gain some fans amongst Jazz loyalists, he needs to step up and show why he was a main piece in the Deron Williams trade of last year. If not, he may find himself elsewhere in the offseason or without many suitors in the future. 

No one wants an inconsistent point guard to man their offense.

Regardless, the Jazz have a bright future with or with out Devin Harris. It's clear they don't see him as the long-term option in their backcourt. If you look at past champions and near-champions, they have all had dominant guards on their teams. San Antonio has Tony Parker, the Jazz of old had John Stockton and Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson of the Lakers...heck even Chauncey Billups for the Detroit Pistons.

But, in the here and now, Utah needs Devin to step-up and step-up now. At one point, Jazz fans were calling for his trade, but they seemed to have backed off a little bit due to his recent success. But if he continues this type of play, we will quickly abandon him. We are very much a "what are you doing for me now?" type of fanbase.

Devin Harris is the X-factor if the Jazz hope to see any success at all in the playoffs.