Philadelphia wins at PIT, clinches No. 7 seed—Nikola Batum, 35-year-old veteran who has become the “X-Factor

PIT에서의 승리, 7번 시드를 확보한 필라델피아···'X펙터'가 된 35세 베테랑 니콜라 바툼 - 스포츠경향 | 뉴스배달부

In short-term games like the playoffs, superstar performances are important, but often it’s the unexpected performances of unheralded players that make the difference between victory and defeat. This is where the term “X-factor” comes into play.

The X-factor in Game 7-8 of the 2023-2024 National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, USA, on Feb. 18 was not Joel Embiid or Jimmy Butler, but Philadelphia’s 35-year-old veteran sixth man Nicola Batum.

Batum finished with 20 points and five assists on the night, including six 3-pointers. Embiid was Philadelphia’s top scorer (23 points, 15 rebounds), but Batum’s performance stood out because his 3-pointers came at every turn.

Philadelphia struggled in the first half, trailing 39-51. Miami’s organized defense stifled their best offensive players like Embiid and Tyreese Maxie.

It was Batum who led Philadelphia’s big comeback in the third quarter. Batum was held to just three points in the first half, but scored 17 points in the third and fourth quarters alone, including five three-pointers, to help Philadelphia pull off the upset.

But where Batum really shined on the night was on defense. Batum was up to the task of shutting down Miami’s leading scorer, Butler, all too well. Butler finished with just 19 points and five assists on the night, making just five of his 18 attempts from the field in 40 minutes of play.

The French native played in the French league before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers with the 25th pick of the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, where he began his NBA career. He then played for the Charlotte Hornets and then the Los Angeles Clippers before coming to Philadelphia in the James Harden trade that took place between 사설토토 Philadelphia and the Clippers last October. Batum was a top-notch role player during his time with the Clippers, and he has lived up to that reputation in Philadelphia.

“I know people can’t expect me to play like I did tonight every night,” Batum said after the game, “I’m always going to try to impact the game in my own way.”

With Batum’s performance and a 105-104, one-point victory over Miami, Philadelphia clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and will host the second-seeded New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

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