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Who You Gonna Watch? Heat Schedule Released

Heatposter The Miami Heat's schedule came out on Tuesday, and you can bet the Florida Panthers front office was looking closely at what the ballers from down the road are going to be up to this season.

Why would the Panthers care about when the Heat play?

Of the markets who share NBA and NHL teams only five (counting Golden State/San Jose but not Orlando/Tampa) do not share arenas. The Panthers, obviously, are one of those five.

Which means the NBA team can play on the same night the NHL team does across town.

Some of the NHL teams own their market (San Jose, Detroit, Minnesota). Others struggle against the NBAers (Florida, Phoenix).

The Panthers know they are going to be playing in the shadow of the Heaters more than ever this season. But at least the schedule isn't as bad as it has been in past years. And the Panthers have taken a good attitude toward the Heat's powerful additions and seem to be rolling with the punches. No other way to go on this one.

When a Category 5 is coming your way, you board up the house and hope for the best. No way to fight back. You are going to lose.

According to my math (which is admittedly shaky), the Panthers and Heat go head-to-head 36 times this season. Luckily for the Panthers, only 10 of those games are home games for both teams.

Panthersgoal Of the first eight head-to-heads this season, only one involve home games for both (Penguins @ Sunrise, Pacers @ Heat on Nov. 22). That's one the Panthers can handle thanks to Sidney Crosby and the fanatical Pittsburgh fans and all.

There are two home head-to-heads in the following nine conflicts and the Heat is going to win at least one of those battles.

On Nov. 26, the Rangers come to Sunrise as the Sixers visit Miami. Winner: South Florida. Two packed arenas at the same time is good for everyone.

On Dec. 15, however, the Cleveland Cavaliers visit downtown Miami with Carolina coming to Sunrise. Huge edge to the Heaters on this one.

The biggest conflicts come later in the season. The Panthers have a seven game homestand from March 6-19 with a couple big-time opponents (Chicago, Washington) coming to town. The Heat are also home from March 6-16. There are two conflicts: Bulls/Capitals (different afternoon start times, however) on March 6; Lakers/Senators on March 10.

Other big home-and-home conflicts include Rangers/Nets on Feb. 27.

There are also other key dates that conflict that will affect the Panthers home attendance or television ratings.

For instance, the first Heat game featuring Dwyane/LeBron/Bosh comes on Oct. 26 when Miami opens in Boston. The Panthers are in Toronto that night. On Nov. 24, the Heat visit divisional rival Orlando as Nathan Horton makes his return to Sunrise with the Boston Bruins.

Other big conflicts: Heat @ Dallas/Panthers @ Tampa Bay (11/27); Heat @ Cleveland/Panthers @ Kings (12/2); Heat @ Knicks/Buffalo @ Panthers (12/17); Heat @ Raptors/Flyers @ Panthers (2/16); Heat @ Cavs/Panthers @ Jackets (3/29).

Again, this schedule works out OK for the Panthers. It certainly could have been much, much worse.