At the beginning of every playoff series, one question always seems to come up; who’s going to be the X factor. As if one player alone can dictate the outcome of the series. Sure, a player can come in and change the outcome of a game, but that’s just one game. You need four to get to the next round.
There are a handful of Spurs who’s play could help decide the outcome of this series. Manu Ginobili has always had his way with the Suns, which usually leads to a Silver and Black victory.
George Hill is another possible X factor. He proved last round that he can hit big shots and play both ends of the floor at a consistently high level. When he’s on, the Spurs are seemingly unstoppable. Richard Jefferson could also be an X factor type player because he gives the Suns a lot of match up problems.
But we Spurs fans know the Phoenix Suns. We know what’s needed to stop this team. That’s why my X factor for this series is the Spurs’ transition defense. If we can stop their run and gun offense and slow it to a half court game, this will be a short series.
The Spurs defense has been inconsistent all season, but we finally had a chance to see what the Spurs are defensively capable of against the Mavericks. And it was a thing of beauty. They harassed the Mavs, clogging the passing lanes, taking Jason Kidd out of the series.
Meeting another hall-of-fame point guard this round, it’s obvious that the Spurs need to shut down Steve Nash to determine the tempo of the game. And that’s what is most important when playing the Suns, dictating the tempo, and forcing the Suns to play in the half court.Once in the half court, the Spurs will need to focus on stopping Nash and his pick and rolls with Amare Stoudemire.
There are plenty of players on this roster who could be an X factor in the series. Plenty of players that could help push the Spurs back to the Western Conference Finals. But one player isn’t going to win this series by himself. It’ll take the whole team, and a commitment to defense to get through this round. And if we stay commited to the defensive end, the Spurs might win a couple more rounds after this.