Why will the Lakers beat the Pacers in this year's NBA Finals?
One word: Shaq.
O'Neal is simply too much for Indiana's aging troops to handle, especially since 7-foot-4 Pacers center Rik Smits (aka the Duckin' Dutchman) often plays like he's wearing wooden shoes.
Unlike the Blazers, who had several big men to throw at Shaq, the Pacers have nobody other than Smits.
Backup center Sam Perkins has had a fine career, but he's 38 years old and stands only 6-9.
Forwards Dale Davis, Derrick McKey and Austin Croshere can help out some, but it will come at a cost. They won't be able to watch their own men as closely, and that will leave Lakers like Glen Rice, Robert Horry and Rick Fox wide open from the perimeter.
The Blazers were long enough and quick enough to rotate out and still get a hand in the faces of those L.A. guns, but these Pacers are too slow and/or small to do likewise.
At the other end, O'Neal blocks shots, cleans the glass and allows his teammates to extend their defense.
It's no mystery why L.A. led the NBA in rebounding and defensive field goal percentage this season.
The Pacers were 20th and 12th, respectively.
Sorry, Reggie, but there's only one Superman in this series.
His name is Shaq.
-- CNN/Sports Illustrated's Marty Burns