FAU and the Miami Hurricanes basketball teams’ Final Four runs, the Heat’s advancement to the NBA Finals and Florida Panthers’ trip to the Stanley Cup Finals make South Florida the first metropolitan area to accomplish those three feats in the same season. It has been a remarkable spring for South Florida.
What makes the historical feat even more remarkable is that the Miami Hurricanes and FAU basketball teams advanced to their first Final Fours. The Panthers are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1996 and only the second in franchise history. The Heat are in their seventh NBA Finals.
The Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball team advanced to the Elite Eight and Nova Southeastern won the Division II National Championship to add to the incredible run of success for South Florida sports teams over the last 2.5 months. The UM women and NOVA SE had their best finishes in program history.
The win by the Panthers over the Boston Bruins and Heat over the Celtics on Monday made Beantown the first city to lose game sevens at home to eight seeds in hockey and basketball in the same season. That makes the wins by the Heat and Panthers that much sweeter. The Bruins set NFL records for points and wins this season.
The Heat and Panthers barely made the playoffs. After losing the first play-in game at home to the Atlanta Hawks, the Heat had to rally in the final three minutes against the Chicago Bulls in the second play-in game to qualify for the playoffs. The Panthers qualified for the playoffs by one point over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Boston led the opening-round series versus the Panthers 3-1. The Panthers had to win games five and seven in Boston, plus game six in Florida to win the series. A Carter Verhaeghe overtime goal in game seven sent the Panthers to the second round. Resiliency has been present throughout all the South Florida playoff runs.
The Miami women’s basketball team rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit in the opening game versus Oklahoma State to advance to the second round. Miami won their second-round game at number-one seed Indiana. The Miami men’s team rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit versus Texas in the Elite Eight.
The Heat and Panthers both advancing to the Finals are the 10th time teams from the same metropolitan area have accomplished that. Another metropolitan area matching the runs South Florida teams have been on for the last 2.5 months will likely never happen again. Enjoy the Heat and Panthers in the finals.