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Beasts of the East: Playoff time for Miami Heat, Florida Panthers on deck

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The Miami Heat open the 2022 NBA Playoffs this afternoon as the top seed in the Eastern Conference against No. 8 Atlanta; the Florida Panthers are closing in on the top spot in the NHL Eastern Conference as well.

When it comes to playoff season, spring is king in South Florida as both the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are atop the Eastern Conference heading into the postseason.

The Heat clinched the top spot in the East and will open the NBA Playoffs this afternoon against the Atlanta Hawks at 1 p.m. (TNT/Bally Sports Sun).

At the same time the Heat is tipping off in downtown Miami, the Panthers will be squaring off with the Red Wings up in Detroit (ESPN).

Although Florida has not clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs yet, the Panthers are getting real close.

Coming into Sunday’s game, the Panthers hold an eight-point lead on the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers for home ice advantage throughout the eastern-side of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Not too shabby.

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The Heat and Panthers being two of the top teams in their respective leagues is good for sports fans throughout the region.

“I think it’s great and it’s kind of what you ask for as a sports fan,” Florida coach Andrew Brunette said. “I think it builds and the more team you bring into the mix really builds a pride within a city, the area where your teams are very competitive and in the mix. I think it helps all of the sports teams.”

Miami, which has won three NBA titles in its history, has already enjoyed plenty of postseason success over the years; the Panthers will be trying for their first playoff series win since their magical run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals when their postseason starts in a couple of weeks.

The Panthers are in the midst of their most successful season in history — and are enjoying one of the best best regular seasons in South Florida since the Heat’s Big 3 Era.

In 2012-13, Miami went 66-16 for a .805 winning percentage as it eventually won its second consecutive title.

This Florida team goes into Detroit riding a nine-game winning streak with a 53-15-6 record.

The Panthers’ winning streak is second-longest in franchise history (12, 2015-16) as they have also won nine straight on home ice.

Florida has posted three separate home-win streaks of at least nine game this season becoming only the second team in NHL history to do so (Detroit in 1995-96).

Florida, like when the Heat had LeBron, Dwyane and Bosh back in the day, are also the highest scoring team in its league.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT DETROIT RED WINGS 

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