THE HEAT AND THE PANTHERS
The Miami Heat will be at the Garden tonight (May 17) to visit the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
The Florida Panthers will travel to Raleigh, NC to face the Carolina Hurricanes, opening the NHL Eastern Conference Finals tomorrow evening (May 18).
Both franchises are based in Miami.
And entering this season’s respective playoffs, each team was designated an eighth seed.
The Heat had to “play in,” to continue.
The Panthers made the postseason by the hair of their long tails.
Two #8 seeds–neighbors–in the conference finals.
Ask either Boston-based franchise.
The Heat have proven to be a more than formidable opponent for the Celts.
And the Panthers bounced the record-setting Bruins out the first-round playoff door on April 30.
On paper, the Heat are no match for the Cs.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are serious.
Victor Oladipo is out.
Tyler Herro is out–for now.
Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love hang on.
Caleb Martin knows how to play both ends of the floor.
Duncan Robinson and Max Strus–undrafted in 2018 and ’19 respectively–each shoot the 3-ball effectively.
Gabe Vincent–also undrafted in 2018–can play some.
Udonis Haslem, undrafted in 2002 is 42.
Shouldn’t be too tough for Boston, but that’s why you play the games.
And the Celtics have authored a recent history of making it more difficult for themselves than need be.
As for the Panthers, they were 1–2–0 versus the Canes in 2022-’23.
But they’re on a real roll.
We shall see.
Maybe the Dolphins can catch fire.
And the Marlins are 21–21 today, 5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
I always liked South Beach.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in May 2023.]