Even with Battier, Heat's win streak continues
HOW IS IT possible the Miami Heat has won 22 straight games? Of course, there are the Three Tenors: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the other guy. But in a move that hasn't drawn too much attention, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra often puts them on the floor with no one else.
That's right - for most of the game, the Heat plays 3-on-5; once in a while, Shane Battier comes in, but we'll get back to him later.
(How do I know all this? For $149, I bought NBA League Pass this season, which means that every NBA game comes into my shattered home every night, and I WATCH THEM ALL. It's the closest I'll ever get to becoming Michael Wilbon, unless he gets me membership into one of his country clubs.)
While we have a moment, let's compare the Heat's historic run against two other recently ballyhooed spells:
Wall Street is rigged; I'm not savvy enough to know how, but I'm just smart enough to know it is. I mean, corporate profits are soaring again, yet most of us are stumbling through the supermarket wondering, "A pound of bacon is $6.49? How did that happen?"
Meanwhile, with Tim Donaghy out of the league, we assume the Heat streak is an honest one.
Besides, the Dow has had four other 10-plus winning streaks. The most recent came in November 1996, coinciding with a 10-day presidential streak in which Bill Clinton winked at a White House intern.
Note: The New York Stock Exchange traded six days a week instead of five until May 1952, back when men were men and MLB hurlers threw 175 pitches a game and liked it.
(Column Intermission: Stephen Strasburg will be the Washington Nationals' Opening Day starter. As a precautionary measure, he will only throw out the ceremonial first pitch.)
Now, what the Blackhawks did is impressive: Starting the season earning a point in 24 consecutive games. But it loses a little luster when you consider the cockamamie NHL changed its rules in 1999, allowing teams to earn a point when they lose in overtime. Heck, in the NHL, you could lose every game you play - and still win your division!
See, where I come from - the nation's capital, home of the federal government and taxation without representation - you don't get rewarded for a defeat, unless you land a good lobbying job on K Street after you've been run out of Congress.
People - even LeBron - treated it like the Blackhawks were on a winning streak. Except that during their streak, they lost three times.
(Incidentally, using NHL math, I might argue I'm on a three-marriage points streak - sure, two of them ended in divorce, but I was "even" with my ex-wives through the first three months of each union.)
I think it's important to remember that during this Heat streak, the team is winning all of its games - and winning them with Battier often on the court.
Many, many block/charge calls ago, Battier was national player of the year at Duke, and he was part of the Houston Rockets' 22-game win streak in the 2007-08 season. These days, he sets up shop just beyond the 3-point line, usually in the corner - I believe he has a desk and a reading lamp over there - and waits for his teammates to reverse the ball to him, then catches-and-shoots a wide-open 22-foot half-inch jumper with his eyes closed.
He does nothing else - the team reportedly fines him if he goes in the paint - reflected by his stats: 0.9 assists, 0.7 blocked shots and 0.5 steals per game. He somehow averages 2.3 rebounds, but most of them are his own misfired 3-pointers that clank off the rim and ricochet back into his lap. Of his 287 field-goal attempts, 252 have been 3-pointers - he shoots 43 percent from beyond the arc and only 34 percent on two-pointers; all the activity near the basket, I assume, bothers him.
Hey, you try winning 22 in a row with this stationary mope on the floor.
Column Footnote: The Denver Nuggets' 11-game winning streak has been largely overlooked; then again, unlike the Heat, they play 5-on-5, and at altitude.
Ask The Slouch
Q. The company that owns PBR might soon be producing Twinkies and Ding Dongs. Does it concern you that so much of your diet will be controlled by one corporate entity? (James McPherson; Spokane, Wash.)
A. No more than the proposed American-US Airways merger means all my flight delays will be controlled by one mega-airline.
Q. Any truth to the rumor that the College of Cardinals threatened to move the Conclave unless a new Colosseum was built? (Kevin Wagner; Pittsburgh)
A. From your lips to God's ears: Coming in 2017, the new Forever 21 Colosseum.
Q. Following Selection Sunday, would it make sense to declare "Bracket Monday" a holiday so we can fill them out without being distracted by our jobs? (Ray Stinger Jr.; Pittsburgh)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Do you consider your first two marriages "play-in games"? (Dan Campbell; Rockville, Md.)
A. I've certainly felt like a 16 seed at each wedding.
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