NBA Playoffs: 5 X-Factors who will decide the Conference Finals

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics NBA (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics NBA (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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NBA X-Factor #4: Bam Adebayo

Defending the paint is essential for Miami in the upcoming series. The Heat lacked physicality under the rim but made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Contributions from Kevin Love added a new dynamic to the team this season. Miami can score efficiently, but how will they defeat a post-dominant offense?

The answer is simple, Bam Adebayo. He is the only physical center on the roster that can make a difference down low. Adebayo is averaging 9.2 rebounds per game this post-season and will match up well against Robert Williams III and Al Horford. He finished Game 1 with 20 points and 8 rebounds – helping the Heat capture Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

NBA X-Factor #3: Jimmy Butler

Energy is infectious, and the Heat will need a lot of it to win another series. A 96-92 win in Game 6 of the Conference Semifinals helped Miami defeat a determined Jalen Brunson. Without Butler, who knows if the Heat would still be in the post-season? He’s scored 20 or more points in seven of his last eight games – including a 56-point performance against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Butler struggled from the three-point line against New York (11.1%), but earned extra points at the free-throw line (86.8%). On Wednesday, Jimmy Buckets scored 35 points and dished 7 assists to open teammates. He shot efficiently from the floor (48%) and shot 90% from the free-throw line. Miami stole Game 1 thanks to an outstanding effort. If Jimmy Butler continues to dominate, the Heat could punch a ticket to the NBA Finals.