According to Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Lakers will defeat the Miami Heat for a third straight NBA championship.

Thomsen made his prediction in the Sports Illustrated 2010-11 NBA preview issue, which hits newsstands on Wednesday:

In the Finals it’s the champion Lakers who control the matchups. Pau Gasol, [Chris] Bosh will be reminded, is the best power forward on Earth; Kobe Bryant has the edge at shooting guard until [Dwyane] Wade proves otherwise; Ron Artest’s mauling defense can stymie even [LeBron] James. Derek Fisher is a better clutch option than any of the Heat’s role players and if Andrew Bynum is healthy – a big if, based on his ¬history – Miami’s Big Three will have no answer for L.A.’s Large Three of Bynum, Gasol and sixth man Lamar Odom.

Despite the Lakers going for a threepeat in SI’s eyes, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder got the love by appearing on the cover … with Nenad Krstic and Thabo Sefolosha.

Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook must be really camera shy or weren’t available when this cover was shot. While they are decent role players, Krstic and Sefolosha are hardly the two guys you think of when you think about the Thunder. Read more