CelticsBlog Writers Weigh In On Celtics/Knicks X-Factors

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the unexpected difference makers in the first round.

X-factors can make all the difference for a team in the playoffs. No matter the sport, there usually is a player that steps up big to make a difference for his team. It might be for one game or for the length of an entire series. It might even be one player. But everyone has a role. Look no further than the 2007/2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics...

P.J. Brown...
...James Posey
Eddie House...
...Leon Powe
remember those guys?

Yeah, me too. Good times, huh?

This year is very different. We are now years removed from those glory days. And with Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger out for the season, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce towards the end of their careers; The Boston Celtics will need an x-factor to step up more than ever before.

For the first part in a CelticsBlog Playoff Preview, I asked our CelticsBlog Writers, "Who will be the X-factor in the upcoming series between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks?"

Comment below on who you think will be the x-factor!

Stay tuned for Part 2 later today for our key match-ups and our predictions for who wins the series.

Here's what our writers thought...

Jeff Clark - Brandon Bass
I do think Jeff Green is our X-factor any day in that if he plays well we're in a much better position to win. With that said, there are more than one X-factors on this team and I'll tab Brandon Bass. Will he be the overthinking, missed rotations, missed jumpers guy from the beginning of the season? Or will he be the confident, knocking down shots, grabbing (a few) rebounds guy that we've enjoyed over the last month or so?

Kevin O'Connor- Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler says he's 100 percent healthy, but can we believe him? If he's telling the truth, the Boston Celtics might be in trouble. Like Kevin Garnett, Chandler brings the Knicks defense to another level. He does many of the same things Garnett does but is an even better shot blocker. With Chandler on the floor, things will be even more difficult for Jeff Green when he drives to the basket. Chandler is also a sensational rebounder that will create even more trouble for Boston. Every knows the Celtics obviously struggle on the boards, but they need to be able to effectively rebound against the Knicks to improve their chances at a series win. In short, a healthy Tyson Chandler will make things extremely difficult on the Boston Celtics and their ability to get easy baskets inside.

Kiorrik- Making Shots
I think the X-factor in this series won't be a person. Both teams have been relying on jump shooting far too much for that. That's why I'm going to go with "making shots" as the x-factor, for either team. New York will have to hit their three point shots to win, and for the Celtics there have been games where we can't hit a single open jumper. (here's looking at you, Jason Terry!) So let's keep an eye on the shooting percentages, and pray to the basketball gods for that friendly bounce.

wjsy - Jason Kidd & Jason Terry
I'll go with the ex-Mavs as the x-factors, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. I doubt we'll see an offensive explosion out of JKidd, but there's going to be a stretch in a tight game where you're going to see Kidd exhibit the veteran moxy that the Knicks signed up the forty-year-old for three more years. It could be a big shot fake and the right hockey assist or a flop on D in a crucial spot and it'll be something that Doc won't be able to game plan against.

For Terry, he's going to have to live up to his instant offense title that landed the Jet in Boston. As teams begin to familiarize themselves with what each team is trying to do, it'll be the play in the margins that will matter most. I expect some single digit outputs from Terry that will have sportswriters and bloggers up in arms, but look for him to show up big in games 3, 4, and 6. At home, JT is shooting 48.7%, 42.7% from behind the line. On the road, he's struggling at 37.5% from the field, 31.3% from distant.

Jay Asser- Jeff Green
Jeff Green. Jeff Green. Jeff Green. Boston is just a different animal when opposing teams have to account for three scorers. That's why this team has been so dangerous in the playoffs in the last few years. Rajon Rondo stepped up his scoring in the postseason when it was needed most. Without Rondo, that third scorer has to be Green. He can't be afraid to be aggressive when playing alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The playoff spotlight is bright and it's easy to defer to two Hall of Famers in big moments. In order for Green to take the next step in his career, he needs to realize he's on the same level as the other two.

Evans Clinchy- Jason Terry
Jason Terry. Remember when that guy was alive? Yeah, me either. But if he suddenly rises from the dead and starts hitting big shots against the Knicks this week, we might have a real series on our hands. I know -- big "if."

Bent- Chris Wilcox
While I think the games will be high-scoring, I am expecting the series to come down to crunch time defense deciding any close games. That's something the Celtics can do well when firing on all cylinders, but this Knicks teams is much better than the one Boston swept two years ago, so the bigger battle might be ensuring that the games are close in the first place. While I don't necessarily think he'll be the one to swing the series, one person who can play a big role in keeping games close even if he doesn't contribute down the stretch is Chris Wilcox. I wanted to mention Wilcox specifically because after 10 years in the league, with six different teams, he finally gets to play in the postseason. Toss in his (Jeff Green-esque) comeback from season-ending heart surgery last year and you've got the kind of story I'm a stickler for. The energy that Wilcox brings should be infectious, especially in the games at the Garden. Riding that wave probably gives the Celtics their best shot at a series win.

Fafnir - If the Celts can prevent the 3-pointer
The C's ability to match up with the Knicks spread the floor and shoot lineups. The C's are well equiped with Pierce/Green to match up at the forward spots with what the Knicks like to do. The key is execution and preventing the easy 3s that the Knicks feast on. Pierce is slower footed on close outs and recovering and Green can get lost on rotation close outs, both of them need to be locked in on preventing the three ball.

Josh Zavadil- Jeff Green
Jeff Green. When Danny Ainge signed Green this past summer he talked about his ability to impact the Celtics on both ends of the floor. His perimeter defensive capabilities were lauded. We've seen that in stretches this season, but I think this is the series where he absolutely has to shine on both ends. Granted, that's like me looking at my beaten-to-shreds 2003 Ford Focus and hoping that it decides to act like a 2007 Ford Focus for an entire month, but whatever. Green is going to vital on the defensive end, and as we've seen with Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger out of the lineup, he has to remain aggressive on the offensive side of the ball.

FLCeltsFan - Officiating
Officiating. I don't mean to be a conspiracy theorist, but I've seen the officials absolutely influence games and make calls that make the difference in games. I just need to look at that Lakers/Warriors game where LA took 50 free throws to 16 for Golden State and some of those calls were ludicrous. The Celtics were the victims of the officials back in 2010 when the Lakers took 21 free throws in the 4th quarter to 6 for the Celtics in a game where they had let them play and called very few fouls in the first 3 quarters. There's no telling if they will be the X factor for the Celtics or for the Knicks, but they absolutely can be the X factor in the series.

Vote on the poll and comment below on who you feel is the x-factor this series!

Stay tuned for Part 2 later today for our key match-ups and our predictions for who wins the series.

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