The Finals

This is the week that pro basketball fans have been waiting for. After seven months of the regular season and playoffs, it's time to crown a new champion. It's time for the NBA Finals.

Who's In?: Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers are the champions of the Western Conference and are making their second-straight trip to the finals. Last year, the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the finals. Since 2000, Los Angeles has appeared in the NBA's championship series six times. The Lakers will be matched up with the surprising Orlando Magic. The Magic are appearing in the finals for just the second time. The Lakers have won 14 NBA Championships; the Magic have never won a title.

Key Laker Players: You can't think of the Lakers without thinking of Kobe Bryant. Perhaps the best player in the NBA, Bryant has been a key player on the team for over a decade. He helped the Lakers win titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and is one of the biggest stars in all of sports. The Lakers also have a very good supporting cast behind Bryant. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are both very good big men and point guard Derek Fisher has been a clutch player in many big games for the Lakers over the years.

Key Magic Players: The Lakers may have Kobe, but the Magic have Superman. Center Dwight Howard earned that heroic nickname by being one of the most talented players in the league. He is nearly seven feet tall and moves very well for a big man, making him extremely difficult to defend. Howard is also a great shot blocker. Orlando has two other major offensive threats in Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. Rafer Alson and Courtney Lee make up a very entertaining backcourt.

Best Storyline: Take your pick! One of the best reasons to follow this series is Dwight Howard. Superman hasn't gotten as much recognition this year as some other Eastern Conference superstars, like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. The big difference is, though, that Howard is playing for an NBA Championship.

Who Will Win?: This is a very tough question. Off the bat, it appears that the Lakers are the favorites. They were one of the NBA's top teams all year, and have much more playoff experience. The Magic have a lot of momentum on their side. The Cleveland Cavaliers were steamrolling through the Eastern Conference Playoffs, and everybody expected them to beat Orlando, too. But the Magic surprised the basketball world by beating the Cavs. They have been the underdog before, and showed that they have no trouble playing under pressure.

One thing is for certain: the NBA Finals will be full of superstars, exciting plays and lots of playoff drama!

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