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2013 NBA Playoffs: 5 Deciding Factors In Eastern Conference Finals

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What Are the Keys In Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers Matchup?

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The Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat are scheduled for tip-off on Wednesday. The two teams know each other very well and we can expect a feisty and physical series.

Miami has cruised in the postseason, losing just one game to the Chicago Bulls. Even without a completely healthy Dwyane Wade, the Heat have had no trouble disposing of their opponents.

Indiana’s road to the Eastern Conference Finals has not been quite as smooth. The Atlanta Hawks won two games at home, but the Pacers managed to close out their first-round opponents in six games. The New York Knicks attempted to fight their way back into the series, but the Pacers ultimately managed to take Carmelo Anthony and co. down in another six-game series.

We now have a very interesting matchup to look forward to. Both teams have gotten better since last year, both on paper and in reality. Paul George has emerged as an All-Star for the Pacers, while the team’s smothering defense remains the backbone of the team.

The Heat were also active in the postseason, which was highlighted by the signing of Ray Allen. The veteran shooter has already shown why Miami wanted him around, as he has had several scoring outbursts in the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Miami are naturally the overwhelming favorites in this series and the Pacers know it. However, there are a couple of important factors to consider for both teams, and the outcome of this series could very well come down to a couple of trends which have developed in this postseason.

So, which are the five deciding factors in this series?

Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis

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Dwyane Wade’s Knee

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Arguably the biggest question in this series is whether Wade can stay healthy. LeBron James’ sidekick has not quite been himself in this postseason, although he did show some glimpses of what he is capable of in the second-round. Miami desperately need Wade to be his explosive self when they take on Indiana.

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Roy Hibbert’s Scoring

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Hibbert struggled offensively for most of the regular season, but eventually picked it up towards the end of the year. Against the Knicks, Roy had several scoring outbursts and his postseason average this season is at 14 points per game. If he can find ways to score, the Heat will have a handful to deal with down low.

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Chris Bosh Needs To Turn the Corner

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Bosh has struggled offensively in the playoffs. He seemed to have finally found his way after he dropped 20 points and grabbed 19 rebounds against the Bulls. While he hasn’t scored quite as much since, he has not forced anything and has been efficient. He needs to continue along the same track.

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Paul George vs. LeBron James Matchup

Paul LeBron
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James has been fantastic as always in these playoffs, but George has elevated his game to another level. Just like LeBron, Paul does it all for the Pacers and it will be very interesting to see whether James dominates the matchup or if George can keep up.

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Can Lance Stephenson Be A Factor?

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Stephenson dropped a career-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Pacers closed out the Knicks. He has been somewhat of a revelation in this postseason, and if he can stay aggressive and continue rebounding at an incredible rate, that will certainly give Indiana a huge lift.