MIAMI (AP) — Four games, four nights, two titles at stake. South Florida is getting ready for an epic run of finals games.
Wednesday’s NBA Finals game in Miami between the Heat and Denver Nuggets starts a stretch of four consecutive days of either NBA or NHL title matchup contests in South Florida. The Florida Panthers are home for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, followed by Game 4 of Heat-Nuggets on Friday and Game 4 of Panthers-Golden Knights on Saturday.
There have been three consecutive days of home NBA or NHL title-round series in one building (or market, in this case) on two previous occasions — but never four in a row, until now.
On May 3, 1972, the New York Knicks had a home finals game at Madison Square Garden, followed by the New York Rangers the next night and the Knicks again on May 5. And on June 4, 2016, the San Jose Sharks had a home Stanley Cup Final game, with the Golden State Warriors playing the next night and the Sharks again on June 6.
The Sharks and Warriors had home buildings about 35 miles apart at that time, almost identical to the distance between the buildings that the Heat and Panthers call home.
There were instances of NBA and NHL final games on back-to-back nights in 1957 (Celtics and Bruins in Boston), 1974 (also Celtics and Bruins), 1980 (76ers and Flyers in Philadelphia), 1994 (Rangers and Knicks), 2003 (Nets and Devils in New Jersey). The Sharks and Warriors also had a back-to-back, a few days after their back-to-back-to-back, in 2016.
Even the Miami Marlins are getting in on the fun. They moved their start time for a Wednesday home game against the Kansas City Royals up 30 minutes, to 6:10 p.m. — or roughly 2 1/2 hours before the start of Heat-Nuggets.
“All eyes are on South Florida sports, and we want our fans to enjoy the fun in rooting on the Marlins followed by the Heat on Wednesday,” Marlins President of Business Operations Caroline O’Connor said.
If someone wanted to attend all four of those games as a fan, based on prices Tuesday, they could expect to pay at least $2,500 — and that’s for seats in both arenas about as far away from the playing surface as possible.
WELCOME TO THE U
Playing back in Miami is a homecoming of sorts for Denver guard Bruce Brown, who spent two college seasons at the University of Miami under coach Jim Larrañaga.
“I could finally congratulate them for making it to the Final Four in person,” Brown said. “I loved my two years at Miami.”
The Hurricanes were 43-22 in Brown’s two seasons at the school in Coral Gables, a few miles from the arena where the Heat play. This season, Miami made the Final Four for the first time — a story that has been part of a huge year of basketball accomplishments in South Florida.
Florida Atlantic also made the men’s Final Four, Miami made the women’s Elite Eight, Nova Southeastern won the Division II men’s national championship, and teams from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties won eight of a possible 14 boys and girls state high school championships.
Brown got to see his old campus Tuesday; Nuggets veteran Jeff Green has a house in a neighborhood near Coral Gables — “all the way out in Narnia,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray joked — and had the team over for dinner Tuesday night.
“We drove by UM,” Brown said. “It just brought back memories ... it's great to be back.”
HERE AND THERE
— Heat guard Tyler Herro (broken hand) still isn't cleared to play. He was going through another contact workout Tuesday.
— Denver is 9-0 when giving up 109 points or fewer. The Nuggets are 4-4 when allowing more than 109.
— Nikola Jokic has scored at least 40 points four times in his playoff career. The Nuggets are 0-4 in those games, 0-3 this season.
— Bam Adebayo’s 47 points in his past two games tie for the second most he’s ever had in a two-game postseason span. He had 48 points (21, then 27) in Games 2 and 3 against Boston of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals.
— Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (109) is two victories from tying Doc Rivers (111) for No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time postseason win list. The only coaches ahead of them: Phil Jackson (229), Pat Riley (171) and Gregg Popovich (170).