Hakeem Olajuwon vs. Shaquille O'Neal: On paper, this is one of the best center matchups in the NBA Finals in recent memory. Olajuwon has an array of moves that grounded league MVP David Robinson in the Western Conference finals. Doing the same against O'Neal will prove be tougher. The key for O'Neal will be to keep out of foul trouble. Edge: Olajuwon, slightly

Power forward

Robert Horry vs. Horace Grant: When the Rockets traded Otis Thorpe, the question was whether the team could win without a power forward. But Horry, a small forward, has done well in the playoffs. Grant, though not the league's best power forward, plays his role as well as anyone. Orlando will hope that Grant won't get caught up chasing Horry around on the perimeter. Edge: Grant

Small forward

Mario Elie vs. Dennis Scott: Elie's numbers don't necessarily stand out, but he's a good defender and is not afraid to take big shots. Scott has come up big in the postseason. Edge: Even

Shooting guard

Clyde Drexler vs. Nick Anderson: Drexler gives the Rockets another legitimate scoring threat besides Olajuwon. Anderson has contained Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller. Edge: Even

Point guard

Kenny Smith/Sam Cassell vs. Anfernee Hardaway: You might as well say the Rockets have two starters. Hardaway, in two seasons, has become perhaps the best point guard in the NBA. Edge: Hardaway


Rudy Tomjanovich vs. Brian Hill: Tomjanovich took a sixth-place team into the Finals and Hill got a group of young players to check their egos. Edge: Even


This is a hard series to pick because the teams are so similar in styles and strengths. Orlando has shown an unexpected maturity, but its effort will fall short against the defending NBA champions. The pick: Houston in seven.

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