Capsule preview of the NBA's conference finals

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm •  Published: May 18, 2013
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A capsule look at the NBA's conference finals:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 MIAMI HEAT (66-16, 8-1) vs. No. 3 INDIANA PACERS (49-32, 8-4)

Season series: Indiana, 2-1. The home team won all three games, and every game was decided by double figures. The Pacers shot only 36 percent and still beat the Heat 87-77 on Jan. 8, then topped them again 102-89 on Feb. 1 — the game that immediately preceded the start of Miami's 27-game winning streak. The Heat ran out to a 23-point lead before coasting to a 105-91 win in Miami on March 10.

Story line: Rematch, and it's one that Indiana wanted. The Pacers were up 2-1 when the teams met in a second-round series last season, led by 10 — at home — with 8:29 left in the third quarter, and got outscored by 62 points over the remainder of the series as the Heat advanced in six games. The matchup a year ago was physical, with 11 technicals or flagrant fouls in the last five games. And pleasantries will be few and far between this time.

Key Matchup I: LeBron James vs. Paul George. The league's best against Indiana's best, and this one might be fun to watch. James is now a four-time MVP and his teams have won 26 of their last 34 games against the Pacers — maybe none of them better than the 40-point, 18-rebound, nine-assist effort in Game 4 that swung last season's Miami-Indiana series around. George is now the clear leader of Indiana's offense, and the Pacers will need him to set the scoring tone again, though he has not shot the ball well at all in his relatively brief postseason history.

Key Matchup II: Dwyane Wade vs. Lance Stephenson. Wade was Miami's top scorer in the three games against Indiana this season, but his right knee will be an issue throughout the series since those bone bruises that have lingered for two months almost certainly aren't going anywhere soon. Stephenson and Miami didn't exactly get along in last year's series, and he figures to come into this matchup with plenty of confidence.

X-Factor: Chris Bosh. He got hurt midway through Game 1 of last year's series, and the Heat got five points in the five games that followed from starting centers Ronny Turiaf and Dexter Pittman, neither of whom are still with Miami. A healthy Bosh could change plenty for Miami in this series, which starts Wednesday night.

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