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Insider

Most important player in Finals? Gasol

The names on the marquee are Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. And over the next two weeks, those two players undoubtedly will receive most of the ink.

But if there is a key player in these NBA Finals, it isn't one of those two. No, the most important player, the one most likely to determine whether it's L.A. or Orlando that hoists the Larry O'Brien trophy later this month, is the Lakers' "other" star, Pau Gasol.

The NBA postseason is all about matchups, and as the last round showed us, Orlando is a very peculiar matchup for a lot of teams. At almost every point in every game, it is Gasol who will be in the crosshairs with one odd matchup or another, and how he deals with them likely will determine the victor.