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NBA Finals 2012: Thunder and Heat Poised to Clash in Finals for Years to Come

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look on in the first quarter of Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJune 23, 2016

The 2012 NBA Finals gave us a taste of a championship rivalry that we are sure to witness for years to come.

The Miami Heat may have outclassed the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games this June, but the competition between the two teams will only get better as both franchises improve and continue to gain invaluable title experience.

Both teams' superstars are young enough to win multiple championships before they ever have to contemplate hanging up their sneakers, and as long as their respective front offices continue to surround them with vital role players, they have dynasty potential.

Without question, 2012 NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and the Miami Heat are the best the Eastern Conference has to offer next season and for the near future. They are the clear favorites to defend their title in the 2013 NBA Finals and beyond. 

Though there is much more stiffer competition in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder have proven to be the one team still on the rise out west. The Thunder made the first round of the playoffs in 2010, reached the Western Conference finals in 2011 and won the West and reached the NBA Finals in 2012. The next step is for them to win it all in 2013.

Both teams will be the popular choice to meet for the Larry O'Brien Trophy this time next year—that's for sure. Kevin Durant is no longer an emerging talent but a superstar who has arrived and delivered on some of the game's biggest and brightest stages already at age 23. 

If Durant can continue his impressive tear he will join LeBron James as an unstoppable force on the basketball court. Quite frankly, no other teams in the NBA present the matchup nightmares that the Heat and Thunder do. 

Durant averaged more than 30 points per game in five games against Miami this summer, and shot nearly 55 percent from the field in the process. Even more incredible, LeBron averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game during the finals.

Both Durant and James are on their own level compared to the rest of the league. Consider the 2012 NBA Finals just a preview of what's to come over the next decade. 

 

Follow Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more on the state of the NBA.

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