Dave Hyde: 8th grade doubleheader as Heat stuns Bucks, Panthers shock Bruins

Okay, you can pinch yourself now.

It was real.

Wednesday night saw a big playoff upset from the Florida Panthers, an even bigger one from the Miami Heat.

Two incredible 5 games. Two additional treats. Six double-decker hours of hockey hoops and hysteria unmatched in South Florida history, with back-to-back finishes you never saw coming and rocked their respective sports.

The eighth-seeded Panthers did enter top-ranked Boston and won in overtime, 4-3, to keep their season alive for a Game 6 Friday in Sunrise.

The eighth-seeded Heat did indeed enter top-ranked Milwaukee and won in overtime, 128-126, to end that shocking streak and advance to play the rival New York Knicks.

Do you know how many times two teams in the same market had ever won playoff games on the road in overtime on the same night?

Of course you don’t know. No one has ever had to research such a statistic in a sports world where every statistic is researched. But you can guess how often this happened.


Even now, with these games in the rearview mirror, each result was the kind that warranted an archeological dig into the big plays that led to the sudden endings. The Panthers’ season faded as Boston tied the game 3-3 in the third period. The Heat trailed by 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Each game also had a show-stopper at the end of regulation. For the Panthers, that came when Boston star Brad Marchand had a chance on a separate buzzer beater and Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky came up with the save to keep the season going. Another save, that is. He was 44 tonight.

“I knew he wasn’t going in,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said of his thoughts as Marchand dunked on Bobrovsky. “You can’t know it’s not coming in. But, I don’t think we had a lot of advantages in this series in the karma of the game. That’s a nice way of saying I disagreed with a number of calls. I felt like we had enough karma stored up that that record wouldn’t go in.”

For the Heat, late regulation heroics again came from Jimmy Butler. Who else? Down by two points with 2.1 seconds left, Gabe Vincent threw a pass to the basket and Butler somehow fought off two Bucks, caught the ball and threw it into the basket as it fell down court.

“I had another version of that song and [Butler] he looked me dead in the eye,” Spoelstra said of the timeout play call. “He just said, ‘No, let me be that guy.’ And I just said, “OK, what if we can’t get that permit?” And he said, “I’ll get it. Do not worry.'”

Great coaching. Play even bigger. Wednesday night everywhere. If Butler’s 42 points showed again why he’s in the Heat pantheon with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk showed again why he’s become the face of his franchise as well.

Six minutes into overtime, Carter Verhaeghe sprinted up the ice, forced a Boston turnover and dunked the puck in front of the net. Tkachuk took it and fired the game winner into the net.

The Heat won in overtime with a defensive end stand. Butler first stopped Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo from driving to the basket.

“That was probably the biggest play of the game,” Spoelstra said.

There were several big plays that resulted in Milwaukee misplaying the end so the buzzer rang before Grayson Allen hit. Milwaukee fans, like Boston fans, were stunned.

The Heat became only the fifth seed no. 8th in NBA history to beat a top seed. They were also a low seed with the losses of Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo to injury.

Who gave them a chance? And who gives the Panthers a shot now?

“We were supposed to get swept by this streak, right?” Tkachuk said.

A week or so ago, these playoffs had a chance to be nightly torture for South Florida fans en route to a quick exit to the offseason, considering these opponents.

Instead, we have an annoyance for the ages from the heat. We have the Panthers forcing a pivotal Game 6 at home on Friday. It all came together in a six-hour doubleheader of sporting joy on Wednesday.

pinch yourself

All this really happened.


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