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 #2: Jayson Tatum

Losing in the Finals last season taught the Celtics a valuable lesson. It gave the team a new chip to add to their shoulder. It added more motivation for the upcoming season. Distractions came and went, but Jayson Tatum’s focus remained present. He finished the regular season ranked 6th in points per game (30.1) and 12th in field goals made per game (9.8).

His leadership helped Boston clinch the second seed in the Eastern Conference (57-25). He scored 51 points in an elimination game against the Sixers, solidifying his role as the X-factor on his team. A loss in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals will motivate Tatum to change the outcome next time around. He scored 30 points Wednesday but failed to take home the win. Tatum finished with 1 assist and 1 three-pointer made—the only sore spots in an impressive showing.

NBA X-Factor #1: Nikola Jokic

Establishing a presence in the paint is an efficient way to secure wins. Denver dominated their regular-season opponents, clinching the first seed in the Western Conference (53-29). Nikola Jokic was the main ingredient in the formula.

He terrorized ball handlers in the paint and provided easy buckets for a fluid offense. He’s scored 30 points or more in five out of the last six games, including a 53-point performance against the Suns. On Tuesday, the Joker abused Los Angeles’ defense, finishing with 34 points, 14 assists, and 21 rebounds. He was the best player on the court and talented enough to deny LeBron James a ticket to the Finals.

The 76ers make a last-ditch attempt to keep James Harden. dark. Next

The stage is set for players to take control of their destiny. I believe these stars have enough in them to perform when their team needs them the most.