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Sports Illustrated Says Heat, Thunder Far From Finished

With the 2011-12 season in the books, it's time to look ahead to the 2012-13 season.

Sports Illustrated asked (and answered) some questions about the next season. What is the biggest threat to a Heat repeat? Four of five SI writers said the answer was the team Miami just beat — the Thunder. From SI:

Lee Jenkins: The Thunder. Three years ago, they opened the season 3-29. Two years ago, they made the playoffs but lost in the first round. Last year, they reached the conference finals. This year, they made it all the way to the Finals. No one in their core four -- Kevin Durant, Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka -- is over 23 and their progression has been steady. The next step is the title. They will grow from this, just as the Heat grew from their loss to the Mavericks. The Thunder will return hungry while the Heat will combat the same hangover as any other champion, maybe more severe, considering the struggle to get to this point.

What can the Thunder do to improve in the offseason? Well, there's not much they can do, in terms of players.

Ian Thomsen: They need to resolve the future of their coaching staff, whether that means re-signing Scott Brooks or coming up with someone they view as an upgrade. (Good luck there.) Maynor's return will help, whenever he is ready. The main job for them is to grow from this Finals experience, which showed Durant and his young teammates how much they need to improve physically and defensively. It's not that they need to play at a higher gear so much as they must play with more torque.

Check out the entire SI article for more opinions on what's upcoming.

Read more about the Oklahoma City Thunder at Welcome To Loud City.