Skip to content

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

Mar 6, 2013, 1:42 PM EDT

KaneLeBron

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.

source:

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.)

source:

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.

Jinx!

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Avs-Red Wings alumni game to feature Sakic, Forsberg, Shanahan, Lidstrom

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    2011 NHL Entry Draft - Round One Getty Images

    The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002

  2. Sharks re-sign Aaron Dell after strong AHL campaign

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Aaron Dell Getty Images

    He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.

  3. What does Jack Eichel mean to the Buffalo Sabres?

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?

  4. MacLellan doesn’t think summer additions have to take from Johansson

    Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Johansson Getty Images

    He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.

  5. Buffalo Sabres ’14-15 Outlook

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    MATT MOULSON AP

    Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.

  6. Arbitrator awards Sens’ Hoffman one-year, $2M contract

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT

    Mike Hoffman Getty Images

    It’s another arbitration win for Ottawa.

  7. Poll: How soon will the Sabres make the playoffs?

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Tim Murray, Jack Eichel AP

    Pondering a rebuilding process that took a leap.

  8. Sabres’ biggest question: Defense

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner AP

    Perhaps you can broaden this to “keeping the puck out of their net.”

  9. NHL ordered to turn over concussion data as part of lawsuit

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Beyond Sport United 2015 Getty Images

    The league estimates such a process could cost about $13.5 million.

  10. Looking to make the leap: Sam Reinhart

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Sam Reinhart Getty Images

    In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?

  11. Under Pressure: Robin Lehner

    Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Robin Lehner, AP

    This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.

  12. It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150803-Jack-Eichel2 Getty Images

    The worst should be behind them.

  13. Poll: Is Boudreau the right coach to lead Anaheim to a championship?

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Bruce Boudreau AP

    Is his poor Game 7 record reflective of anything?

  14. Ducks’ Biggest Question: Is their window already starting to close?

    Aug 2, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ryan Kesler AP

    In other words, how much longer will Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler stay at the top of their game?

  15. In Bernier, Leafs hope they have a stabilizing force

    Aug 2, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Jonathan Bernier Getty Images

    His newly signed two-year deal is an opportunity for

  16. Looking to make the leap: Nick Ritchie

    Aug 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Nick Ritchie Getty Images

    He’s got the size and skill to potentially make an impact.

  17. Under Pressure: Anaheim’s goaltenders

    Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    150802_FrederikAndersen Getty Images

    Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Stepan (1616)
  2. J. Toews (1305)
  3. N. Bonino (1298)
  4. E. Fehr (1258)
  5. B. Gionta (1216)