SZNAP CHAT – MAY 25
By Adam Sznapstajler

PLAYOFF CELEBRATION & HEARTBREAK

As I am sitting down to write this I am currently going through two very opposite experiences, a playoff win and a playoff loss. It’s amazing to me how much emotionally draining to me that each game can be as a fan, even in the opening round. As an eternal optimist it is always devastating to see my team lose so you can multiply that by 1000.

It is widely accepted that the NHL and NBA have the best playoffs due to the rise of the intensity of play. It is not often that I get to experience both of my teams playing in the postseason at the same time. Although the Heat are a perennial playoff team, the Florida Panthers have been far from it and often one of the worst teams in hockey. However, over the past few years the Panthers have developed quality young players.  Combining all stars like Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, and a Stanley Cup winning coach in Joel Quenneville, the Panthers have had their best season in history and as covered earlier and are playing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

The Panthers went down 0-2, losing both games on their home ice and trying two different goalies. After going down 5-3 in Game 3 in Tampa Bay the Panthers came back to win in overtime. However, they followed it up losing Game 5 decisively to go down 3-1 in the series. With their backs against the wall the Panthers turned to rookie sensation Spencer Knight in goal who put together a dazzling performance in a 4-1 Panthers win to force a Game 6 in Tampa.  Here’s hoping for a Game 7 back in Sunrise.

The Miami Heat have had a so-so campaign as defending Eastern Conference Champions. It seems that the condensed offseason has led to inconsistent play for the Heat, along with their best player, Jimmy Butler, missing almost 20 games due to COVID protocols. Due to the uneven season, the Heat finished as the 6 seed and a rematch against 2x MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Game 1 was a dogfight that saw the Bucks winning in overtime on a last second shot by Kris Middleton and the Heat’s leading scorers combining to shoot 10-47. Going into Game 2, down 0-1 on the road, a win wasn’t a necessity for the Heat but a loss would put them in a tough situation going back to Miami for Game 3. If the Heat didn’t win they would at least need to have played well and shown the Bucks that they are a tough matchup and ready to fight to the end.

Unfortunately, Game 2 went in the complete opposite direction with the Heat essentially being run off the court in the first quarter and losing the game by over 30. I am a firm believer in that there’s no difference in a 20-point loss as opposed to a 2-point loss but this one definitely hurt. It is not good to be physically dominated by the opposing team. I am looking forward to hopefully getting back on track in Game 3, like the Panthers above, but the Bucks and Giannis seem to be on a mission right now.

Both teams play again later this week so I’m hoping for double playoff celebration, but given my own fandom history I think I’ll be expecting at least one heartbreak.

Check out my weekly column every Tuesday.  Until then, sayanora from South Florida!

Image by amile from Pixabay