Commentary

NBA Finals: Dick's Pick

Updated: June 2, 2009, 5:00 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I know a lot of people figured to see a LeBron James-Kobe Bryant showdown in the NBA Finals.

It wasn't meant to be.

So the Orlando Magic stopped the defending champion Celtics and then knocked off the Cavaliers. Can Stan Van Gundy's team complete the trifecta and win the NBA title?

This has the potential to be an outstanding series. Can Kobe lead Los Angeles to another ring? Will the Lakers find a way to slow down Dwight Howard, who put up 40 points against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference final?

If you are looking for incentive, Los Angeles simply has to look back at last year's final, losing in six hard-fought games to the Celtics. The Lakers will think back to that feeling and it will provide determination to win it all this time around.

Kobe found a way to lead the Lakers to victory in hard series against the Rockets and Nuggets leading up to the championship series.

Andrew Bynum has been screaming about playing time, and now he will get a challenge against Howard, the best inside force in the NBA today. Bynum will get to guard one of the greatest young players in the game today. Can the Lakers' big man prove he can play and win? That is an important scenario, finding a way to stop Howard.

Pau Gasol will be a presence inside for the Lakers too. For those who felt Gasol was soft in the past, just look at his performance against the Nuggets in game six.

Trevor Ariza has done a solid job for Phil Jackson's team and he will have to step up again. Derek Fisher is a veteran and experience under this pressure is a factor. Lamar Odom came through in the last two games of the Nuggets series and he will be called upon to contribute off the bench again.

The Magic is a difficult opponent. They can spead the court and hit those three-pointers. It is a tough, tough series because Orlando has a lot of balance. Guys like Hedo Turkoglu and Mickael Pietrus can hurt you. Rafer Alston was a great pick-up around the trade deadline and he has been productive this postseason. Jameer Nelson played well against the Lakers during the two-game sweep during the regular season, and he may try a comeback from his injury layoff.

When it is all said and done, the Lakers get their 15th championship and Phil Jackson captures his 10th ring. I like the Lakers to win the championship in seven games.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.