Whether you're a fan of the Miami Heat, Florida Panthers, or both, catching all the upcoming action and any sleep in between will be taxing. Diehard fans are at risk of experiencing dry, bloodshot eyes, hot-wing-induced dysentery, a sore throat from TV-screaming, and divorce, among other side effects.
The Miami Heat's 104-93 Game 1 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals was a less-than-ideal way to kick off the saga. But this is a marathon, not a sprint, and the odds-defying juggernaut that is the Heat-Panthers duo has not even begun to warm up.
Let's take a look at what the next two weeks are scheduled to bring, and how you can make it out the other end relatively unscathed.
And here we go…. pic.twitter.com/nleXdt5W7D
— Ryan Yousefi (@Rizzmiggiz) June 1, 2023
The Miami Heat played until damn-near midnight in Game 1 on June 1, which means Miamians reading this have already gone one full round in this duel-championship fight. You're probably already tired, and we're just getting started. To survive the Finals-a-palooza gauntlet, you'll need to plan accordingly and practice self-care.
Just like the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Final is a best-of-seven series. And just like the Heat in their series against the Nuggets, the Panthers will begin their quest for a title on a Western Conference first-seed's home turf.
The Stanley Cup series kick off Saturday night, June 3, pitting the Cats against the Las Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. From then on out, days off will be few and far between.
If all hell breaks loose and both the Panthers and Heat see their respective championship series go the full seven matches, there will be a mere five days with no games between now and June 20.
Behold, the Championship June schedule:
- Friday, June 2: OFF
- Saturday, June 3: Panthers at Golden Knights
- Sunday, June 4: Heat at Nuggets
- Monday, June 5: Panthers at Golden Knights
- Tuesday, June 6: OFF
- Wednesday, June 7: Nuggets at Heat
- Thursday, June 8: Golden Knights at Panthers
- Friday, June 9: Nuggets at Heat
- Saturday, June 10: Golden Knights at Panthers
- Sunday, June 11: OFF
- *Monday, June 12: Heat at Nuggets
- *Tuesday, June 13: Panthers at Golden Knights
- Wednesday, June 14: OFF
- *Thursday, June 15: Nuggets at Heat
- *Friday, June 16: Golden Knights at Panthers
- Saturday, June 17: OFF
- *Sunday, June 18: Heat at Nuggets
- *Monday, June 19: Panthers at Golden Knights
Plan Your Overtime Attack
Compared to the NBA, the NHL's overtime is an extended grind. While overtime in the NBA comes in at five-minute clips, the NHL tosses up a full sudden death 20-minute period.
As Panthers fans can attest, the NHL's approach can lead to some late nights. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes played an extra 79 minutes beyond regulation, until nearly 2 a.m. — the longest game in both teams’ history.
Other times, sudden death is more sudden. In the very next game of that series, the Panthers prevailed less than two minutes into the first overtime period.
The key is that once you commit to cheering your team on in overtime, there's no going back. When you're in, you're in.
Mind Your Spirits
That quivering sound you hear in the distance isn't the cries of fans rooting for the Heat, it's the collective squeal of their livers recoiling like a scared chihuahua begging for mercy.
New Times isn't in the business of telling you how to imbibe, but we might offer a bit of advice before things get real: switch it up a bit. Maybe use your medical marijuana card to treat your anxiety for the majority of games, and reserve the bottles of Teramana for the weekend matches.
While you're at it, mix in a salad or two, won't you? A three-week diet of 50-percent-off Papa John's pizza is not sustainable.
If there was ever a time to cash in those paid time-off days you've been accumulating, it would be the next two weeks. Treat yourself. Stick it to the man. Go to a Heat or Panthers game, stay out late on a Wednesday, then sleep in on Thursday and watch Netflix.
Aren't you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Make those paid time-off days play-time-off days. Your boss sucks anyway.
Reminder: This Isn't Normal
No matter how the results play out, the best way to alleviate the anxiety of dedicated fandom is to remember how much damn fun this is. The Heat and Panthers should have been on vacation and back by now. Jimmy Butler should have already consumed copious amounts of wine and pasta in Italy, and Panthers fans should have already spent a month on Twitter calling for the firing of head coach Paul Maurice.
But here we are, on the verge of two legendary championship runs.
Win or lose, the next two-week period will bring with it more memorable sports moments than most cities enjoy in two decades. Soak it in, enjoy it, and take your blood pressure medication.