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Orlando in 7
June 3, 2009 - Neil Rudel
I'm picking Orlando in the NBA Finals, which begin tonight.
The Magic won both matchups in the regular season and have a better overall team than the Lakers. Plus you know I like picking the underdog.
Dwight Howard has become a superstar, and he'll be a tough guard for the Lakers' Pau Gasol.
Hedo Turkeglu may be the league's most underrated player, Rashard Lewis is an excellent second option, and only fantasy geeks know Michael Pietrus.
It will be interesting to see if Jameer Nelson is able to play. He could supply the Magic with off-the-bench energy at point guard.
What the Magic don't have, though, is Kobe Bryant, the game's best closer -- something the Orlando-Cleveland series, and LeBron's ouster, proved.
Bryant is eager to prove he can win an NBA title -- his fourth overall but first without Shaquille O'Neal.
Kobe alone may give the Lakers a mental edge for this reason: The Lakers aren't satisfied just to be here. The Magic have to prove they aren't, either.
I'm still taking Orlando in 7 -- a great cap to what has been a spectacular NBA playoffs.