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#pounditWednesday, November 30, 2022

Kendrick Perkins names biggest X-factor for NBA Finals

Kendrick Perkins leans over

Nov 18, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Kendrick Perkins (5) reacts during the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

While the Golden State Warriors are favored in their NBA Finals matchup with the Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins believes that one Celtics player could be the key to making the series a close one.

On ESPN’s “Get Up” on Tuesday, Perkins said that Celtics guard Marcus Smart is his X-factor in determining the outcome of the series.

“In the Steve Kerr era, [Smart] has been the most effective person towards guarding Steph Curry,” Perkins said. “Marcus Smart loves to get physical. He frustrates [Curry] a lot, and he’s a smart player.”

Smart was named the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and finished the season with the seventh-most steals per game in the NBA (1.68). He was tied for sixth in total steals (119) as well.

Guarding Curry will be a tall task, however. In 16 playoff games this season, he’s averaging 25.9 points per game, including 3.8 three-pointers and 6.2 assists. Curry won the first-ever Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award for his performance in the series.

But the Warriors have plenty of other capable players to turn to offensively if Smart does indeed shut down Curry. Klay Thompson is coming off of a Game 5 performance in the Western Conference Finals where he scored 32 points and shot 50 percent from three-point range.

The Celtics had a league-best team defensive rating (106.2) during the regular season, and will need to have a similar effort this series in order to win their first championship in over a decade.

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