NBA Playoffs 2014: X-Factors Who Will Impact Bracket Most

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NBA Playoffs 2014: X-Factors Who Will Impact Bracket Most
Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Tony Parker haven't been winning 2014 NBA playoff games by themselves.

Not only have other stars on their team been vital—the Dwyane Wade's, Russell Westbrook's, Lance Stephenson's and Tim Duncan's of the worldbut role players as well. 

Here are X-factors for each remaining team whose performance will swing the series one way or the other.

 

Eastern Conference Finals: Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat

Lance Murphey/Associated Press

SF Evan Turner, Pacers

Indiana is only averaging 91.4 points per game this postseason. Its bench is to blame. No reserve is averaging more than 6.5 points per game.

When the Pacers traded for Turner at the trade deadline, who was averaging 17.4 points per game for the Philadelphia 76ers at the time, they thought they had found the answer to their bench-scoring woes. They didn't—Turner is averaging 3.3 points per game in the playoffs.

Indiana needs an offensive spark to keep up with the Heat, which is averaging 8.2 more points per game than the Pacers this postseason. Turner is capable of providing that spark. It's been a rarity, but it'd be huge in helping Indiana upset Miami.

 

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

PG Mario Chalmers, Heat

In wins for the Heat this postseason, which have been all but one of their games, Chalmers averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 assists. In Miami's one loss, he only scored three points and delivered two assists.

A one-game sample isn't enough to draw the conclusion that when Chalmers struggles, the Heat lose. Over the past three years, though, he has built quite the resume of clutch performances. Without him, who knows if the Heat would be attempting to three-peat.

The 2013 NBA Finals provided a better sample size to show the extent of Chalmers' impact. In wins against the San Antonio Spurs, he averaged 14.8 points per game—in losses, 5.0.

 

Western Conference Finals: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

SG Manu Ginobili, Spurs

When Ginobili has scored in double figures this postseason, San Antonio is 6-2. The team is only 2-2 when he doesn't. He's averaging 2.4 more points in the playoffs than he did last year, which couldn't be more important for the Spurs.

Miami held Ginobili to under 10 points in four games in last year's NBA Finals. Three of those games were Heat victories. 

If Tony Parker's hamstring injury lingers, Ginobili's ability to run Gregg Popovich's offense becomes that much more of an X-factor against the Thunder.

 

Richard Rowe/Getty Images

C Steven Adams, Thunder

ESPN reported that Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the postseason with a calf injury. Losing Ibaka means more to the Thunder than losing 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks of playoff production per game. The team also lost the rim protector who makes everyone else better on defense.

Adams, who's already playing 16.3 minutes a game, should see an increase in playing time as Oklahoma City tries to replace Ibaka. How the rookie center responds could dictate whether or not the Thunder advance to the Finals.

In Oklahoma City's eight wins this postseason, Adams averaged 4.9 points, 4.3 boards, 1.9 blocks per game and shot 69.2 percent from the field. In its four losses, he averaged 0.3 points, 2.3 boards and 0.5 blocks. The seven-footer is raw, but he's already leaving his imprint on games.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.

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