Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk is drawing inspiration from Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler

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The Miami Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, are providing the NHL’s Florida Panthers with some inspiration as each team moves closer to playing for its respective championship.

Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, their top scorer, said he has been watching and learning from what Butler is doing for the Heat this postseason.

“They’re in a very similar spot as us. They’re like the underdogs and going into each series, and kind of just believing in their team. And he’s one of the leaders in that and kind of like the emotional leader,” Tkachuk told the Miami Herald. “I love watching him play, especially more being down in Florida, seeing him more than I ever have. I’m very impressed with him. He’s a gamer. He’s pretty dialed in with what he’s done these playoffs. Last night was a big example. That was fun to watch.”

Butler scored 27 points to help the Heat to a 111-105 win against the Boston Celtics on Friday in Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Miami, the No. 8 seed in the East, won the opening two games on the road against the No. 2 seed and is two victories from reaching the NBA Finals.

Butler also might be giving the Panthers some good luck. On Thursday, Butler was seen shooting baskets wearing a Tkachuk jersey. Tkachuk then went out and scored in the fourth overtime to give Florida a 3-2 win at the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 2 is Saturday night.

“You want to be that guy at big moments,” Tkachuk said. “Jimmy and David Ortiz are two of the best at that. It was cool seeing Jimmy wearing my jersey. The guys got a big kick out of it.”

The Heat could become the second South Florida team to knock out a top-seeded team from Boston this spring. In the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Florida eliminated the Boston Bruins, who had set an NHL record with 65 regular-season wins.

In an additional twist, Tkachuk went to the same high school in St. Louis as Celtics star Jayson Tatum.

“He was not a cocky guy or arrogant at all,” Tkachuk told B/R Open Ice. “Super confident. Great, great, great dude. He’s such a stud.”

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.