31 May, 2023
Remember a few years ago when the Bucs won the Super Bowl and the Lightning won the Stanley Cup? Well South Florida is looking for its very own two-sports championship run.
After years of witnessing teams leave the playoffs early or fail to qualify for them at all, South Florida is now in the national limelight with not one but two teams competing for the championship.
The Florida Panthers will compete in the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in history, while the Miami Heat are making their sixth appearance in the NBA Finals overall.
The path both teams took to get here is even more incredible than that accomplishment.
To earn the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Heat had to win a game where losing meant staying at home in the play-in round. Miami would then defeat opponents from New York, defeat Milwaukee, the NBA team with the best record this season, and eliminate Boston in seven games after taking a 3-0 series lead.
The Panthers entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed in the East on the ice. Florida won the second Eastern Conference championship in franchise history after defeating Boston in the opening round, Toronto in the semifinals, and Carolina in the championship series. Boston had the best regular season record in NHL history.
The Miami Heat’s gear from the Eastern Conference Finals is on its way to South Florida shops as they advance to the NBA Finals. The price will be as follows.
The plotlines are there: the Heat, led by Conference Finals MVP Jimmy Butler, but also featuring Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, and others, go to the NBA Finals, becoming just the second No. 8 seed to do so.
Left winger Matthew Tkachuk, who was acquired by Florida in a major deal over the offseason, is the team’s captain. Tkachuk has reacted by becoming an MVP candidate and scoring the game-winning goal in three games against the Hurricanes to help Florida advance.
The Denver Nuggets, a team making its first-ever appearance in the championship round, will be the Heat’s opponent in the Finals. The Panthers will compete against a Vegas Golden Knights squad that is competing for its first championship in only its second Stanley Cup Final appearance.
If you’re a sports lover in South Florida, this really is a terrific moment to be alive.