Hed to head Statistics: Lakers vs. Magic

It’s not the climactic season-ending matchup that many observers had hoped for -- in which LeBron James would have faced Kobe Bryant with the NBA title and individual supremacy at stake -- but the 2009 NBA finals showdown between the Magic and Lakers still offers plenty of intrigue nonetheless. Here is a look at five keys to victory for Orlando -- making its first appearance in the finals since 1994-95 -- and the Lakers, looking to win their first title since 2002.

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant vs. Courtney Lee- This is Kobe Bryant's biggest series of his entire career. If he wins, he adds to his legacy quite a bit and will go down, at least for a while, as one of the top 10 players to ever step foot on a basketball court. On the contrary, if he loses he will still have that shadow of never winning a championship as the teams best player looming over him. Kobe will undoubtedly put up huge numbers this series and will probably be the most determined player on the court. Lee is definitely mismatched taking on Bryant in every capacity. Lee is might be one of those rookies who disappears once they get to the finals. Yes, he's been good throughout these playoffs, but he hasn't been matched up with a guy like Kobe yet and has not been on this big of a stage yet. I really think Lee will disappear in this series. EDGE: Lakers

Center: Andrew Bynum vs. Dwight Howard- Bynum was supposed to be the missing link from last year's Lakers team that fell short. I just don't see it. He hasn't been very good in the playoffs and I'm sorry (not really) to say Laker's fans, that I don't think he will ever be that all-star center you'd hoped he would be. He's also going to have to play against the nightmare that is Dwight Howard. Howard has been everything the Magic had hoped in the playoffs. He had a masterpiece of a game in game 6 against the Cavs, posting a 40-14. The Lakers have to hope Howard gets in foul trouble or Bynum or Gasol, whoever is guarding Howard, is in for a long series. EDGE: Magic

Coach - If you got points for looking like a porno star, then Stan “Ron Jeremy” Van Gundy would win hands down. The fact is Phil Jackson is the best in the business and he will have the Lakers ready and prepared.Lakers get have a huge coaching edge.

Prediction: I've doubted the Magic the whole course of the playoffs, and have desperately rooted against the Lakers the whole playoffs. Kobe needs this championship on his resume if he wants to be in that elite class of players when his career is over. On the other hand, Dwight Howard can put himself in an extremely good position with a championship so early in his career, joining big men such as Kareem Abdul- Jabbar to win a title as the best player on their team at such a young age (Kareem also had Oscar Robertson). A win would be huge for both of these superstars. The real question is if the Howard's supporting cast can match that of Kobe's. The Magic took the season series 2-0 so that tells you that they match up well against them. Remember, the Magic also took the season series from the Cavs.I really want to pick the Magic but I have to pick the Lakers in 5. Kobe is better than Dwight and Gasol and the Magic really have no answer for him. They got away with it against LeBron, but the Cavs didn't have secondary scorers like Gasol and Odom. The games will be close but the Magic will be laid to rest fairly quickly.

Game 1: Lakers by 4
Game 2: Lakers by 9
Game 3: Magic by 6
Game 4: Lakers by 3
Game 5: Lakers by 13

There's what I think of the NBA Finals. Sad to say it, but it looks like the Lakers and Kobe will capture their fourth title of the decade. I'd really like to see Howard and Magic win and Kobe walk off the court like LeBron. Wouldn't that be awesome? Please Orlando, let me be wrong (like I have been so many times before). Please beat the HATED Lakers. Sweep them! I just don't see it happening. Yet another anticlimactic finals.

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