X-Factor: Shane Battier
By Rob Peterson
Gregory Shamus/NBAE/Getty Images
A mix of brains and brawn

Coach Jeff Van Gundy's name has been on the minds of voters for Coach of the Year. A strong case could be made for Tracy McGrady's most valuable-ness. No center in the NBA can match up on a night-to-night basis with Yao Ming.

But you knew that already (as you may already know that neither T-Mac nor Yao has been out of the first round, but then again, Shane Battier's been in the postseason three times and hasn't won ... a game). What you need to know is Battier could be the key to the whole thing for the Rockets.

Battier is an intriguing mix of brains (Duke, you know) and brawn. At 6-8, 220 Battier has the bulk to guard pugnacious post players and a nice combination of speed and skill to check chumps on the perimeter.

Need more proof? Who's name No. 3 on the top five-man Lenovo Stat group? Battier. This is why the Rockets sent Stromile Swift and Rudy Gay to Memphis for Battier in July. T-Mac and Yao will be the focal points, but Battier will be the guy who's left open and hits a big three or the guy Van Gundy looks to for that important, gotta-have-it stop late in a close game.



X-Factors: ACB LBJ | Battier | VC | Harris | Horry | Nellie | Nene | Odom

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