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Courtney Lee Ready to Provide Some Finals Magic

Keith Schlosser@KnicksJournal Analyst IJune 5, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Courtney Lee #11 of the Orlando Magic in the first quarter of Game One of the 2009 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 4, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

We all have heard the headlines. League MVP Kobe Bryant is leading his Lakers against Superman Dwight Howard's Magic.

We all know the names of the players who will be key to their respective team's success. Kobe. Dwight. Pau. Rashard. Courtney.

Wait a minute, Courtney?

That's right, Bleacher Creatures, you heard it here first: Magic rookie guard Courtney Lee is Orlando's wild card to winning the finals.

Lee, along with Mikael Pietrus, will be given the daunting task of guarding Kobe Bryant.

Although he was the team's sixth man during the regular season, Lee has emerged as the starting shooting guard during the playoffs, and will be faced with trying to limit Bryant's effectiveness out of the gate.

Limiting Bryant's "effectiveness," however, is much more than just simply aiming to limit his scoring, as Bryant elevated his game immensely to a true MVP level this past season.

He has been focused more on being the facilitator, moving the ball around and playing to his teammates' strengths. His own points are now easier to come by, as he is able to find the right shots and not force up the bad ones. 

Luckily for the Magic, scouting reports have marked Lee as an absolute "defensive pest" since his high school days. He is a total slasher, and can rip the ball away from Bryant only to finish on the other end of the floor for a layup.

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The Magic can also only hope that Lee's pesky hands can get in Bryant's face enough to cause him to force up shots instead of being patient enough to take his time and find his teammates when he is covered.

Unfortunately for Lee, he is not God-like. Nuggets coach George Karl, referring to how difficult it was for his team to guard Bryant during the conference finals, said, "I think Jesus would have had trouble covering [Bryant]."

Lee may be just the next best thing. His defensive prowess and role with the Magic have already gained him comparisons to Bruce Bowen and Tayshaun Price, also defensive specialists who led their own teams, the Spurs and Pistons, to championship titles.

Whether he is ready or not, it is Courtney Lee's time on the big stage. While he will not be the best or most talked about player on the court tonight, he will be just as crucial to his team's chance at winning the title.

If Lee can pester Kobe Bryant enough, the Magic may steal away the same trophy most critics feel is Bryant's to lose.

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