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Pacers X-factor Hornets

Pacers’ X-factor that will determine fate against Hornets

The Indiana Pacers are set to take on the Charlotte Hornets in the first of two Eastern Conference play-in games on Tuesday night. Both teams have had rough 2020-21 seasons when it comes to injuries, but they are both still holding out hope of making the playoffs. In order to make that happen, they will have to win this game and then knock off the loser of the Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards play-in game in order to secure the No. 8 seed and a chance to play the Philadelphia 76ers.

Nate Bjorkgren and the Pacers have had things a bit rougher this season. They have seen key player after key player go down with injury. It all started early in the season when T.J. Warren went down for the year with a foot injury.

Since then, many players have missed valuable time with injury. On that list of players are Caris LeVert, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and Edmond Sumner. It simply has not been the season Kevin Pritchard and the front office were hoping for.

One big-time midseason addition for the Pacers was 22-year-old forward Oshae Brissett. He was signed after a successful stint with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the G League. Since being signed by the Pacers, Brissett has played in 21 games, with 16 of those appearances being in the starting lineup. He put up 10.9 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds and a block per context.

All of that being said, Brissett will be a massive X-factor for the Pacers tonight as they take on the Hornets in the play-in game. If Indiana wants to come out victorious, they will need another big-time performance from their young forward.

Why Oshae Brissett Is The Pacers’ Biggest X-Factor vs. Hornets

Quite simply, the Pacers are going to need their supporting cast to take pressure off their main stars. Domantas Sabonis is likely going to be the focus of Charlotte’s defense. Caris LeVert is also going to be a major focus for the Hornets.

Caris LeVert, Pacers, Domantas Sabonis, Nate Bjorkgren

Both Sabonis and LeVert have proven that they are more than capable playmakers for their teammates. With the Hornets focusing on slowing them down, that should leave players like Doug McDermott, Justin Holiday, and Brissett with open looks. If that is the case, Brissett needs to show off his ability to stretch the floor, slash to the rim, and rise up and throw down a big dunk.

In the Pacers’ last game of the season, Brissett showed flashes of the star potential that many have seen in him. He scored 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including knocking down five of his eight 3-point attempts. Brissett also snatched 10 rebounds in the win.

Not only will Indiana need Brissett to step up and knock down open looks offensively, they need his defensive ability. Charlotte is a team full of scoring options. Even though Gordon Hayward will be unable to play, the Hornets can score in bunches with Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, LaMelo Ball, and Devonte’ Graham leading the way.

One of the aspects of Oshae Brissett’s game is his ability to move his feet and play strong defense. It seems likely that he will match up with Bridges, who shredded the Pacers to the tune of 23 points and 10 rebounds the last time these two teams met. If that is the case, the Pacers are going to need Brissett to stay in front of Bridges and force him to shoot contested shots.

Sabonis is a great offensive player, but his ability to defend at the rim is not good. Brissett is capable of defending the rim, which he showcased as the team’s starting center for a short period of time when both Sabonis and Myles Turner were out with injury. That is something the Pacers will need against the Hornets, who are very good at getting into the paint.

Indiana matches up well with the Hornets, but their stars will not be able to do it all. If they want to win and move on to the second play-in matchup, the Pacers are going to need Brissett to step up. He doesn’t need to put together another 30-point game, but he needs to shoot consistently when given looks, rebound, and play a high level of defense.

Expect to see Brissett rise to the occasion like he has all season for the Pacers since being signed. His future is incredibly bright, but his team needs him now more than ever. Brissett could very well be the deciding factor against the Hornets.