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Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers: Eastern Conference Finals Preview

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A year ago the Indiana Pacers gave the Miami Heat quite the scare. The Heat found themselves down 2-1 and without Chris Bosh, who left with an abdomen injury early in game 1, in addition to a banged up Dwyane Wade -- things looked bleak. The Heat would go on to outscore the Pacers by 52 points in taking the next three games and the series 4-2, with the finishing blow a vintage 40 point, 10 rebound game six performance delivered by Dwayne Wade.

Here is a look back at all the ups and downs from last years tilt with the Pacers.

The Pacers took the regular season series 2-1, with both wins coming in Indianapolis. Indiana is faced with a massive challenge in trying to defeat the Heat four times in seven games, especially when you consider the Heat have lost three times in their last 48 dating back to February 2.

A few things have changed since these two teams met last season. Indiana is much improved, even without injured Danny Granger, and much more experienced. Paul George is becoming a household name in the NBA, while Lance Stephenson has gone from a end of the bench player to rising star seemingly overnight. Roy Hibbert has also picked up his game since the last time these two teams met in the post season providing quite the road block at the front of the basket for a slashing Miami team that prides itself on taking the ball to the rim.

Sadly, for the Pacers, the Heat are also much improved, adding a few key pieces to last seasons Championship team. Besides Ray Allen and Chris "Birdman" Andersen the Heat also have their own rising player in Norris Cole, who is benefiting from a years worth of added experience just as Stephensen has. Cole is pushing Mario Chalmers for minutes and should be a big factor in this series off the bench. Oh yeah, that Chris Bosh guy will play this time too, Boshy Bear!

Prediction: Heat in 5

Miami owns home court advantage, which obviously means the Pacers must win a game in Miami to win the series, something they haven't done since this time last season. In addition the Pacers finished below .500 on the road this year, an amazing stat for a team that managed to still finish as the number three seed in the East.

The benches could be the ultimate difference. Indiana's starters accounted for more than 81% of the teams points against the Knicks, while Miami prides itself on having a bench that doesn't miss a beat. The Heat have gotten deeper since last seasons meeting, while the Pacers are without Granger and have limited scoring options coming off the bench.

Get ready for a physical series, and lots of high tension moments. The Eastern Conference Finals

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