What Will Be The 5 Key Factors For Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers?

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The Beasts of the East

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Eastern Conference has self-imploded and cannibalized itself into a disaster. With only three teams above .500, injuries, confrontations and chemistry issues can all be blamed for the scrap yard that is the East.

There are two teams, however, that have run away and separated themselves from the rest of the conference. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are in a two team battle for conference supremacy.

Indiana got off to a fast start, winning their first nine games and lead the entire Association with a record of 18-3. Miami has had their lapses and moments of struggle but are only two games behind the Pacers at 16-5.

The two powerhouses will crash head on in South Beach Tuesday night in the first matchup of the season. It is an important game for both the Heat and Pacers because they will play each other twice in four games. Miami can close the gap and even take the lead in the East or Indiana can create some distance and a sense of comfort.

The “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will have to play cohesively as a unit and strong as individuals if they want to take down the Pacers. Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West have and will continue to be a threat to Miami’s reign in the East.

It does seem that Miami will be the underdogs against the Pacers. After all, the champs are outmatched in the front court and with rebounding. I’m not sure if they can make up for it in the back court because they don’t have a huge advantage there.

Anyway, here are the five keys to victory for the Heat as they prepare for a preview of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.

Shane Phillips is a Miami Heat Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @Smphil01, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Rebounding

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that the Heat front court is unevenly matched against the big men of the Pacers. There is also no doubt that Miami continues to struggle with rebounding as they are ranked 30th in the league and Indiana is 9th. It will be important for Bosh, Chris Andersen and the rest of the champs to contain Hibbert and West on the offensive boards. They must box out and grab the basketball.

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4. Containing Paul George

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Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Paul George has jumped into stardom, becoming part of the basketball elite. He put everyone on notice in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals and has continued his strong play into this season. George has the ability to spread the floor with his shot and distribute the ball to his teammates. If Miami can slow down and contain him, they will slow down the Pacers.

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3. Turnovers

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

You have to figure that this will be a defensive battle between these two East leaders. The Pacers lead the league in points allowed, and the Heat are ranked sixth in the same category. Miami struggled in the early part of the season with turnovers, and they will really need to take care of the ball against the best defense in basketball.

Not only will the defending champs have to take care of the basketball, but they will also need to cause turnovers. A big part of the Heat offense starts on defense with the creation of turnovers and fast-break opportunities.

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2. Dwyane Wade

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Wade sat out of Sunday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons due to it being the second game of a back-to-back. I think Erik Spoelstra also wanted his star to be at 100 percent for the Pacers, and Wade wants to redeem his Eastern Conference Finals performance.

Miami will need a strong performance out of the shooting guard as Indiana will be firing on all cylinders. With a couple days of rest under his belt, I expect a big game from “Flash”.

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1. Chris Bosh

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana’s front court is strong and full of power. Miami’s front court, well, they really don’t seem to have one this season. Spoelstra has switched to a smaller starting five, playing Bosh at center. That may be a problem for the champs because they are incredibly handicapped in the post.

Bosh will need to step up and produce a double-double in rebound and assists if Miami wants to have a chance. Hibbert and West will have a field day if Bosh and the rest of the Heat front court don’t play rough and tough basketball.

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