Jun 2, 2023 - Sports

Heat lose Finals Game 1, Panthers trying to avoid same fate

Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

Despite being a mile high, the Heat couldn't rise to the occasion Thursday night, losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals to Denver, 104-93.

Why it matters: Miami is looking to make history as the first No. 8 seed to win the NBA championship.

  • But the No. 1 seed Nuggets are one of the best teams the Heat have faced so far these playoffs, due in large part to the force of nature that is Nikola Jokić.

Tale of the tape: The two-time MVP bullied the Heat defense, scoring another triple-double with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

  • The Nuggets were in control the whole game, trailing for just 34 seconds, and leading by as many as 24 points.
  • Bam Adebayo played well for Miami, scoring 26 points and 13 rebounds. Jimmy Butler scored just 13 points.
  • The Heat struggled shooting the ball: Max Strus was 0-10 and Caleb Martin went 1 for 7.

Flashback: The Heat have lost the series opener in the NBA Finals during all three of their championship seasons, in 2006, 2012 and 2013, the AP reports.

  • Game 2 is Sunday in Denver.

Yes, but: Luckily, we have two horses in this race of South Florida sports fandom.

  • The Florida Panthers try their luck at winning their first-ever Stanley Cup beginning with Game 1 tomorrow at 8pm against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
  • Much like the Heat, the No. 8 Panthers have been on a Cinderella run for the ages. After barely making the playoffs, they came back after being down 3-1 to the No. 1 seed Bruins in the first round before beating two other teams.
  • If both teams win, they would be the first pair of NBA and NHL teams from the same metro area to win championships in the same year.

What we're watching: Can Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky continue his stellar play against Vegas? He had a 4-0 record and 0.966 save percentage last round.

  • Bobrovsky should benefit from much-needed rest, with Florida last playing May 24.
  • But the Golden Knights are a well-rounded group, with six players scoring at least six goals these playoffs, per USA Today.

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