2011 NBA Playoff X-Factors:

2011 NBA Playoffs Round One Preview; X-Factors:

The idea for the article came to mind solely because of Blazers swingman forward Gerald Wallace. I intended to make a piece all about him, but instead I will highlight my own, personal “X-Factor” in each of the 2011 NBA Playoffs series. The reason Wallace strikes deep for me is because a. His Trail Blazers draw the Mavs the first round, b. he was a mid-season acquisition and c. he was almost here in Dallas.

Wallace was the “original” Charlotte Bobcat, their first selection back in 2004 when the Kings did not protect Wallace in the expansion draft for the new Bobcats team. Any who, fast forward ten years and Michael Jordan (runs the ‘Cats) deals Wallace to Portland for cap relief and a hopefully brighter future.

Many speculated the move, questioning whether Wallace could co-exist with second year French forward Nic Batum. The transaction has more than paid off, and here Portland stands, as the 6 seed, as the ESPN, ESPN Radio, and experts favorite pick to knock off the 3 seed Mavericks in the Western Conference first round matchup.

HE IS my Mavs-Blazers X-Factor. Here are the rest!

Spurs-Grizzlies:

Toney Allen.

If Memphis can get above par production from their bigs (Zbo, Gasol), it’s up to veteran and former Boston Celtic Toney Allen to pick up the scoring in Rudy Gay’s absence. “Orange Juice and Mayonnaise” has had a bust of a season, and Allen has been the one to step up on both sides of the basketball.

Lakers-Hornets

Luke Walton

The only way New Orleans should even touch a victory is if Phil Jackson decided to run the overpaid, son of a legend, Walton on the court for 30+ minutes a game.

Thunder-Nuggets

Russell Westbrook

How do you stop a lightning fast, prolific, NBA scorer? How about you put a lightning fast defender on him. Ty Lawson might be Russell Westbrook’s (only and) worst nightmare as for a first-round playoff matchup. However, if Westbrook and Durant each get their 20 per and OKC plays some defense, this shouldn’t go more than 6.

Bulls-Pacers

Carlos Boozer

Will the real Carlos Boozer please stand up – and help Derrick Rose get a sweep? Interim Head Coach Frank Vogel and his Pacers would be very grateful to steal a game in this best-of-seven series.

Heat-76ers

LeBron James

If “King James” puts up anything relatively close to his regular season numbers, the likely MVP runner up (to Derrick Rose) should be able to guide his new-look Miami Heat to a playoff debut series win.

Celtics-Knicks

Rajon Rondo

The Knicks are being picked by…New Yorkers, and maybe Michael Wilbon. But, the Celtics know it’s playoff time. They always kick it into the final, and right gear when the calendar turns to late April. If the Knicks want to make it a series, they need Carmelo Anthony to go…off! If the Celtics want to get some rest before a round two date potentially with Miami, they need to get more than just 8 dimes, 7 rebounds, and a basket or two from former Kentucky Wildcat point guard Rajon Rondo.

Hawks-Magic

Joe Johnson

The Hawks took the season series, 3-1. But that is quite irrelevant. Dwight Howard doesn’t want to go fishing early…again, and he could have a MONSTER series to go on with his MVP-caliber season. If Atlanta is going to stretch this series past 5 games, All-Star guard Joe Johnson needs to wake up…and fast. Also, Josh Smith probably shouldn’t shoot any 3-pointers. Enjoy! J!!!!

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