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The Thunder will have to overcome a couple of tough challengers in order to return to the NBA Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs won't go down easy. Tim Duncan showed with his resurgent playoff performance that he won't go quietly into the night. Tony Parker should have at least one more season with strong scoring success.
San Antonio also has players on the rise, such as Kawhi Leonard.
Gregg Popovich's squad is a resilient one and won't go down without another fight for the crown.
Also, the Memphis Grizzlies will be a team to reckon with next season. The Grizzlies lost a disappointing first-round series to the Los Angeles Clippers this postseason.
Nevertheless, they'll be more determined than ever to grind their way to the NBA Finals next season with Tony Allen facing an expiring contract.
Allen, the defensive leader who defines the Grizzlies' team character, won't be satisfied without a championship in what will be both a contract year and his peak year athletically at age 30.
Also, Zach Randolph is determined to make the most of a full season after coming back from his partial MCL tear this year to play off the bench to finish the regular season and just return to form in the playoffs.
Randolph had worked hard to have a great year this season before becoming injured, and he'll surely be pushing through the offseason to have a championship year.
Memphis has two players on the rise in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol and one who's building his status as a top-five player at his position in Rudy Gay.
Additionally, Lionel Hollins is a superior coach to Scott Brooks. Hollins has a strong vision for his team and knows how to maximize the effectiveness of all of his players.
With both the Spurs and Grizzlies pushing hard to reach the NBA Finals, the Thunder will face too great a struggle to reach the finals.