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Pacers, Heat running away with East for now

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MIAMI (AP) - The last time two teams were presumed to be this far ahead of everyone else in the Eastern Conference was five years ago, when Boston and Cleveland were a combined 51-6 entering Christmas and surely would be the two frontrunners to represent that side of the league in the NBA Finals.

Take note, Indiana and Miami.

Neither the Celtics nor the Cavaliers even won the East that season. Orlando went to the Finals instead.

It would take some sort of huge surprise for a third team to rise up and contend with the Pacers and Heat this season, especially in a best-of-seven series. When the East wakes up on Christmas morning, only three teams will have over-.500 records. The last time that happened was 1973, when the East had only eight teams.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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