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‘Hawks or Heat: Who ya got? A PHT-PBT original

Mar 6, 2013, 1:42 PM EDT


As you may have heard, the Chicago Blackhawks are on quite a roll.

As you also may have heard, so too are the Miami Heat.

You may also have heard some national pundits yelling at clouds discussing which streak is more impressive — Chicago going 23 games without a regulation loss, or Miami winning 15 in a row.

In the spirit of healthy debate (as opposed to loud noises), ProBasketballTalk’s lead writer, Kurt Helin, reached out to PHT’s Jason Brough for a pleasant email exchange.

To: Jason Brough, ProHockeyTalk
From: Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk

We have been brought here to discuss what seems to be the sports bar debate of the week — at least in some mythical sports bar where the NHL and NBA demographics overlap — and that is the Miami Heat streak of 15 straight wins vs. the Chicago Blackhawks streak of 23 games in a row earning a point.

The challenge is, this isn’t even comparing apples and oranges. It’s more like comparing apples and barbecue brisket. But because of my giving nature, I’m willing to concede one point from the start — the Blackhawks streak is already historic to its sport in a way the Heat streak is not yet. I think it’s just hard for some basketball (and maybe general sports fans) to get their arms around what the Blackhawks streak means, really.

So, what does it mean?

From: Brough, PHT
To: Helin, PBT

Oh, so that’s how you’re going to play this. Like a respectable human being. I was thinking we were going to argue LIKE THIS and belittle one team’s remarkable accomplishment, because that’s what sports in the modern age is all about. Think of the page views! And the vitriol in the comments section! Oh, the vitriol.

But I guess if you want to be boring, I’ll just answer your question politely.

Of all the remarkable things about the Blackhawks’ streak, perhaps the most remarkable is this: It’s really, really hard to build a dominant team in the NHL, where unlike the NBA with its luxury-tax system, there’s a hard salary cap. Chicago’s cap payroll is about $67 million. The lowest cap payroll in the NHL belongs to Phoenix, at about $50 million. And let’s not forget the best hockey player can, at best, play half the game. Nobody sits on the bench all game, except the backup goalie. Oh, and by the way, the ‘Hawks’ backup goalie has been great this season.

Have the Heat been getting unexpected contributions, or has it mostly been LeBron?

From: Helin, PBT
To: Brough, PHT

Oh, I’m not going to stay respectable — WE ARE GOING TO ARGUE! I expect we will degenerate into a dozens battle soon.

First though, it’s not just been LeBron James, although he remains the best basketball player walking the planet and that’s a good guy to have on your team. LeBron’s playing at a Jordanesque level right now and while that pisses off people who hate LeBron/want to defend Michael Jordan (as if he actually needs defending) it’s just a fact.

But like I said it’s not just LeBron, Dwyane Wade has been great during the streak. In his last five games Wade has been averaging 27.4 points a game on 59 percent shooting. Chris Bosh has had good games. They are defending. It’s a team thing, just with LeBron as the head of the snake.

Here’s where I see the streaks as different — the ‘Hawks streak is meaningless come the playoffs. Last season the eight-seed Kings won the Stanley Cup and got to take it around Manhattan Beach all summer. Playoff hockey and regular season hockey seem largely unrelated, and while Bill James and his stats friends embrace the randomness it means that this streak is dead come the playoffs.

It’s seeding and nothing more. In the NBA, only one team outside a top three seed has won a title since going to this playoff format (and that Rockets team traded for Clyde Drexler midseason). What the Heat are doing will carry over to the games that matter. What the ‘Hawks are doing becomes irrelevant.

Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong.


From: Brough, PHT
To: Helin, PBT

You’re wrong. Not insanely wrong, but wrong nonetheless.

It still helps to have home-ice advantage in the playoffs. And in a league like the NHL, where parity reigns, any advantage is worth having. Have you seen the atmosphere at the United Center for ‘Hawks games? Let’s just say, it doesn’t have the same sad, Derrick Rose-less feel as when the Bulls play. Chicago will take as many home games as it can get.

As for the Kings, they were far from a typical No. 8 seed. They badly underachieved during the regular season given the players on their roster. (Sort of like another Los Angeles team you may be familiar with, though I’m not sure that one can win a title.) Plus, the Kings got Jeff Carter in a late-season trade. Not sure he had the same impact as Clyde with the Rockets, but he did score eight times in the playoffs, tied with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar for the team lead.

That said, I will give you this: the Blackhawks are beatable. Are the Heat?

From: Helin, PBT
To: Brough, PHT

If you keep insulting basketball I’m going to bring up how foolish the NHL looked during its lockout. That was embarrassing. The NBA would never… oh, wait. Nevermind.

I heard an interesting thing All-Star weekend from a person with another team, who said the Spurs actually are the team best suited to beat the Heat. San Antonio has veterans who have won, they move the ball very well and move off the ball (which is how to attack the Miami pressure), they have size to score inside, and they have role guys who buy the system. It makes sense. Except I don’t see the Spurs getting past the Thunder (they couldn’t last year and the Thunder are improved). So while no team “can’t be beat” it’s hard to see how anyone beats the Heat if they are focused. And the reason they have won 15 in a row is they are focused.

Speaking of the lockout, I’m curious — how are guys holding up physically? The reduced recovery time of a condensed schedule wore down NBA players and, while the NBA is a physical league (just ask Blake Griffin), the NBA doesn’t allow checking and full contact.

(Unless it’s from J.J. Barea, then it’s just cute.)


From: Brough, PHT
To: Helin, PBT

How are guys holding up? The answer is, not well.

Granted, how much all the injuries we’re seeing in hockey has to do with the lockout is tough to say. But I feel like I’ve written the word “groin” more than usual this season. And not in the “Serge Ibaka slapped one” way.

In fact, if the Blackhawks are going to be stopped, injuries may be what does it. So far, they’ve been pretty lucky in the health department. Dave Bolland and Corey Crawford have missed some time, but that’s nothing compared to what teams like the Flyers, Red Wings, Senators, Blues, and others have experienced. Fingers are always crossed in the NHL, especially when you have key players with concussion histories, as the ‘Hawks do with Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook.

But for now, everything’s going swimmingly. The Blackhawks host struggling Colorado tonight and get the Avs again Friday night in Denver. Then it’s Edmonton and Columbus, two more bad teams. Which is to say, this streak could go on for a while longer.


From: Helin, PBT
To: Brough, PHT

Frankly, we’ve all been typing “groin” too much this season.

So to sum up, you admit that the Heat streak is better than the Blackhawks’, and that hockey is the sport for people who can’t understand the subtleties of NASCAR. At least that’s what I got out of it.

Maybe you saw it differently.

From: Brough, PHT
To: Helin, PBT

Basketball sucks.

  1. bcsteele - Mar 6, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    This is awesome…lol

    Mike where do I submit my resume to come work for you guys?

  2. hockinj25 - Mar 6, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    “Basketball sucks.” Best and most true line I’ve read in a while. Seriously though, the Hawks streak is more impressive because there is way more parity in the NHL.

    • Tyler - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      I agree the Hawks streak is more impressive. Shortened season, slightly condensed schedule, more parity. Not to mention the Hawks play in a tough division.

      There are 23 teams in NBA history with winning streaks of 16 games or MORE. The LA Clippers had a 17 game winning streak earlier this season?

      P.S. Basketball sucks.

      • lordfletcher - Mar 6, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        I don’t have anything against basketball, as in the sport….. but I do have hate everything about the NBA.

        There is no point in being an NBA fan in over half of the markets. Your team will never win!!! EVER!

  3. martyb30 - Mar 6, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Hahaha; love it! Great job, guys!

  4. hockeywithdrawal - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Now I don’t just dislike basketball, I also dislike people that don’t dislike basketball.

  5. Stiller43 - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Basketball DOES suck.

    The other week when i saw an ad for the all star game, i was shocked there was a season going on, let alone that there were at the halfway point.

    And as for the “debate,” the PBT writer basically wins this argument for the blackhawks in saying that playoff time, seeding doesnt really matter in hockey, but it does in basketball.

    He’s right. And he’s right because, in basketball, you can essentially pick 14 out of the 16 playoff teams correctly, including seeds, before the season. Its obvious that the heat are going to the conference finals, if not going to win it all.

    In hockey, teams that are not as good can easily beat you (see last night as the caps beat the bruins). A few lucky bounces in hockey can be the difference between winning and losing…thats all it takes. And thats what makes the hawks streak (even if were still only at just 15) way more impressive than anything the heat have done this year.

  6. sewell1977 - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    In the NBA, only one team outside a top three seed has won a title since going to this playoff format (and that Rockets team traded for Clyde Drexler midseason). What the Heat are doing will carry over to the games that matter. What the ‘Hawks are doing becomes irrelevant.

    Pardon my ignorance about basketball, but aren’t the Kings the first ever 8th seed team to win?

  7. r8rbhawk - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Good job PHT and PBT, this was superior debate than the crap ESPN came with. Why was Barry Melrose, a world-class analyst and coach who reached the SCF debating with a blow-hard with now game experience like Stephen A. Smith?

    Hawks streak is better.

    • r8rbhawk - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      *no not now game experience

  8. mungman69 - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    With college and high school basketball followed by many more fans more know basketball better. I like em both.

  9. goalieguy32 - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    I have a serious question for basketball fans?

    why do certain teams play music and sound effects WHILE the game is going on ??

    Im not denying the basketball players are amazong athletes but that seems kind of gimmicky and circus-like if you ask me…

    • bobslidel - Mar 6, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      but stopping the game multiple times so guys can duke it out to prove just how “hard” they are and settle petty disputes isn’t gimmicky and circus-like? yeah these guys are some total bad asses. and then there is the shootout. yes that’s the furthest thing from gimmicky.

  10. kiltimar - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    How is the Heats’ winning streak even impressive at this point? It’s not even the longest winning streak this SEASON in the NBA. The Clippers ran off 17 straight in December. Pass the Clippers first and then we’ll talk impressive streaks.

    • ibieiniid - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      there it is. that’s a winning argument.

  11. bucrightoff - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Considering the NBA commissioner manipulates games by proxy through the refs, going a legit 23 games without losing has to win.

    • ibieiniid - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      i’ve never seen a ref block a shot.

      get real, basketball refs are probably the least influential refs in the 4 major sports.

      • r8rbhawk - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        Sure… Remember Tim Donaghy?

      • ibieiniid - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        to be honest… no, I didn’t. lol

        but for real, refereeing has nothing to do with their streak. they won all but 3 of those games by more than 10 pts a piece. a ref might be able to swing a game a few points, but not 10.

      • ibieiniid - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        not that I’m saying the Heat streak is better. I don’t know enough about basketball to make an unbiased opinion here

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      The NBA commish torpedoes trades and shakes down cities/investors for the right to beg for a team. Refs? Nah, easier to make inconsistent suspensions (or not) so certain players play….

  12. capsfan19 - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Hawks hands down. How could you even compare the two? Does the heats streak beat out all other nba winning streaks? Well the hawks streak beats out ALL prior nhl streaks…

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      ’72 Lakers won 33 in a row on the way to the title, so your point is very valid.

      • manchestermiracle - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:36 AM

        Minor correction, if someone hasn’t already noticed and posted: The ’79-’80 Flyers went 35 without a loss.

      • filadelphiaphlyers - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        Yeah the kicker in the hawks streak is that its the longest point streak to start out a season ever.

        Still NBA sucks and hawks streak is better.

  13. tfaltin - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Basketball. The one topic hockey fans from Chicago, Detroit, Colorado, Montreal, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh can agree all on. My big issue with the sport is the impact of one single player. LeBron made Cleveland relevant. Edmonton’s drafted Hall, Nugent Hopkins, Eberle and Yakupov and they still are fighting to be a playoff team. It should be about the entirety of the team.

    • Jackson Scofield - Mar 6, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      The other problem with basketball is the insignificance of a point. I want that exciting feeling you get whenever your team scores a goal. When the Bulls make a basket? Cool, but there’ll be at least 70 more between the two teams (baskets, not points, a lot more of those). Not even 3-pointers are worth being excited about in most situations

  14. comeonnowguys - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    They had a five day training camp, and then played 10 of their first 12 games on the road against some of the best goaltenders in the conference, including the two conference-goalies.

    Meanwhile, the NBA Eastern Conference is kind of a joke.

  15. mclovinhockey - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Hockey, takes speed, size, skill, hand eye coordination, poise and heart

    Basketball, takes size…… If I was 2 feet taller I would be a first overall NBA pick, the closest I ever came to playing basketball was tossing my hockey tape balls across the room into a trash can, yet I can have a better shooting percentage than Shaq

  16. tyler4richardson - Mar 6, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    NBA sucks and is full of lazy athletes. You got the odd few who are enjoyable to watch, but for the most part the NBA is a lazy self entitled league. Lets never compare hockey to the NBA again. And no love for the Clippers 17 game win streak this year?

  17. broadstbully33 - Mar 6, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Caps fan flyers have the highest a streak at 35

    • r8rbhawk - Mar 6, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      I think Caps fan was referring to the record for the consecutive games to start a season. Philly going 35 straight is still the better record, but 23 straight games with a point to begin the season ain’t bad…

  18. thehighcountrybear - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Were the NBA to drop a man from each side in overtime, and institute a one-on-one shootout to decide the game after both teams go through the motions in overtime, then the debate might be relevant? The NHL for all its rough tough cream puff posturing, has become a blend of rugby on skates and third-rate theatre [ more people go down in an average NHL match than in post prom night festivities ]. The NBA is the biggest bore outside of NASCAR and the NHL is the biggest circus outside of Cirque du Soleil, so how can a comparison of any kind for any purpose be relevant?

  19. deiong - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    black hawks are way more impressive then heat, but nether hold a candle to the bulls 72-10…

  20. 8man - Mar 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    I’ll take the Hawks. They skate on razor blades, there are more them and they can beat the crap out of the Heat with sticks.

    I’d pay to see that.

  21. dallasstars9 - Mar 6, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Please, Hawks hands down! Does everyone forget the Bulls going 72-10? That will never be done, not by the Heat or any other NBA team.

  22. midwestwarrior - Mar 6, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    the nba is so corrupt and rigged and it’s plain as day to see and anybody who has the audacity to deny that is a straight up moron. earlier this season, lebron james went 5 straight games without being called for a personal foul, if that and that alone isn’t a dead give away of how rigged the nba is then you are beyond reality

  23. pavelfitzgerald - Mar 6, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    Clearly someone proof read Kurt’s posts because I’ve never seen anyone make more simple grammatical errors on a popular website (yes, that even includes the condescending Mike Florio)

  24. bobslidel - Mar 6, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    wow. hockey fans have a racial bias towards the nba. what a shocking revelation! as a white guy these people sicken me. there are exceptions of course. but a good chunk of the hockey fan base are disgruntled, white racists.

    • midwestwarrior - Mar 6, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      and what about black people like stephen a smith? you know his rant against hockey has to do with hockey being full of white athletes. why do you ignore the other side? if all white hockey fans are racist, than all black nba fans are racists too by your logic

      • bobslidel - Mar 6, 2013 at 10:40 PM

        um I never said all white hockey fans are racist. and please point me to where hate filled black people are disparaging the nhl. you also used ‘than’ incorrectly in your post.

    • filadelphiaphlyers - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      Im a wayne simmonds fan and hes black. im not. Doesnt really matter to me. I think there is a big cultural difference between the 2 leagues that is a big factor in deterring people away from each league. There are white guys in the nba who i dont care much for either. I know its not a large sample size but the point is its the culture not the color.

    • 8man - Mar 7, 2013 at 6:56 PM

      I am not disgruntled!

  25. acepylut - Mar 6, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    There’s a problem with the math… the Blackhawks streak of games without a regulation loss stands at 29 game, not 23. The ’23’ is the number of games to start the season.

    How did the Heat start their season? 1-1…

    ‘hawks. Next?

    • filadelphiaphlyers - Mar 7, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      not sure you can continue a streak going back a previous season. The players dont do that with points do they? Yeah its the bobby clarke argument from the article earlier this am but i agree and i would support that argument no matter what team was making it (even though for some teams i wouldnt want to)

  26. asyd1827 - Mar 6, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Was the NASCAR cheap shot really necessary?

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:39 AM

      Compared to all other motor sports? Yes, I believe it was necessary.

  27. norseman81 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:09 AM

    Lordfletcher best point in this whole section

    “There is no point in being an NBA fan in over half of the markets. Your team will never win!!! EVER!”

    This is the biggest problem with the NBA. Big Markets will always win. Look at the winners of the NBA championship since Stern took over. All of them are huge markets including San Antonio! NBA is rigged, refs control everything in basketball. They can blow their whistle on just about every play and give a team points. What other sport can put points on the board like that?

  28. jhuck92 - Mar 7, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Am I the only one here who actually loves both sports? I guess I defy the “NHL or NBA-only” demographic…

    Go Bulls and Blackhawks!!

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