Battle of the .800 Teams
This article reminds me of what I wrote here
January 29, 1981
When a couple of teams are playing over .800 ball this far into an NBA season, it's only natural to examine the seasons enjoyed by the all-time percentage champions in NBA history for a comparison. In other words, what are the chances of either the 76ers or Celtics to flirt with basketball immortality at the end of this regular season?
Entering last night's game the 76ers had a 44-9 record. Billy Cunningham's team had suffered through one rough week during which they lost three games in a row out on the West Coast. The Celtics, meanwhile, came in with a 42-9 record. Remarkably, the Boston team has yet to drop even two games in a row, let alone three. No NBA team has ever gone through an entire season without losing two in a row at least once.
Here is a look at some other big NBA seasons:
1. 1966-67 76ers (68-13).
Along the way, the 76ers once had a 47-4 record. However, this team, voted as the best one-season club in NBA history by a panel of NBA experts, had both a two-game and a three-game losing streak. A 21-9 finish suggests the onset of ennui, n'est-ce pas? However, they pulled themselves together and won the championship by rubbing out Cincinnati in four (of five), Boston in five and San Francisco in six.
2. 1971-72 Lakers (69-13).
Bill Sharman's team had such checkpoint stops as 17-1, 39-3 and 54-9. This, of course, is the team that compiled a record 33-game winning streak. The Lakers lost two in a row three times. The playoffs were a minor impediment, as LA swept Chicago, toppled then defending champion Milwaukee in six and crunched the Knicks in five.
3. 1972-73 Celtics (68-14).
This most lovable of recent Celtic teams got off to a 10-0 start (before Tiny Archibald shredded them for 35 points and 15 assists in the Garden) and stood 41-10 after 51 games (please note). A John Havlicek injury created a mild dip down to 44-12, but the team regrouped and flew home by winning 24 of its last 26, wrapping three eight-game winning streaks around single-game losses. Yes, this gang dropped two in a row once, (but not until games 48 and 49) before being dumped twice in one weekend by - who else? - New York. They dropped a seven-game series to eventual champion New York, as Havlicek injured his shoulder.
Make of all this what you will, but keep in mind that starting tonight in Chicago 14 of the next 18 Celtic games will be on the road. Good fans know the ramifications of that statement.
The Sixers arrived here at less than 100 percent strength since veteran forward Steve Mix was still sidelined with a sparined ankle. But the 76ers wisely signed veteran forward Ollie Johnson a while back and he has been able to help their cause . . . Bill Fitch figures it's not bad enough he had Philadelphia to worry about, but tonight the team goes to play Chicago, a team he really fears.
- #05 (Walton)
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- 1971-72 Lakers
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- NBA Scoreboard
- Russell v. Chamberlain
- Walton Gang (1977)