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Byline: John Smallwood
HOUSTON _ For now, just call Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal the "Big X-Factor."
With the Detroit Pistons showing no signs of slowing their regular-season run, the Eastern Conference road to the NBA Finals will run through Motown, not South Beach.
But make no mistake, O'Neal will have the biggest impact in determining whether Detroit or Miami comes out of the East.
"It looks like it will be like last year with us and Detroit," O'Neal told reporters before Sunday's All-Star Game. "I am going to step it up in the second half.
"In the first half, I was just trying to get everybody right. Now it is my time to pick it up and stay injury-free."