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Can the Warriors match the Bulls with back-to-back 66-win seasons?

Ray Chavez/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Let’s start this week’s column with a couple of trivia questions. The answers will appear later in the column.

1. Nine of the current NBA teams/franchises have never won 60 games in a season. Can you name those nine teams?

2. Of the 71 teams that have won 60 or more games in a season, seven teams/franchises have done it four or more times. Can you name these seven teams?

Before we get to the NBA teams that have 60 or more wins in a season, let’s set the standard a little higher and talk about teams with 66 or more wins in a season. Last year the Golden State Warriors reached this milestone and won 67 games on their way to the NBA Championship. As most NBA fans know, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls hold the record for most regular season wins with 72. In the season following their record-breaking mark, the Bulls won 69 games and became the first (and only) team to win 66 games in back-to-back seasons.

With a 22-0 start this season, the Warriors need to go 44-16 (.733 winning percentage) in their remaining games to get to 66 wins and match the Bulls’ back-to-back 66-win seasons. There has been a lot of discussion about whether the Warriors can reach 70 wins; they would have to go 48-12 (.800) to reach that milestone. They would need a 51-9 (.850) record in their final 60 games to break the Bulls record of 72 wins.

Consider this: Six teams have won 50 or more games of their final 60: Chicago 1995-96 and Dallas 2006-07 (both went 52-8 in their final 60 games) and four teams (1971-72 L.A. Lakers, 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, 1999-2000 Lakers and 2012-13 Miami Heat) each went 50-10 in their final 60 games.

Of the 14 teams with 66 wins or more in a season, 11 went on to win the title that year. The three that did not: 1972-73 Boston (they won 68 games and then lost to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals), 2006-07 Dallas (they won 67 games and then lost in the first round of the playoffs to Golden State), and 2008-09 Cleveland (they won 66 games and them lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals).

One more note on the 66-win season: In 11 of those 14 seasons, at least, one team had the second-most wins in the league with 60 or more victories. One team, the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers, had the second-most wins in the league with 65 (the Cavs had 66 wins that year) and then won the NBA title that season.

Seventy-one teams have won 60 or more games in a season. The Boston Celtics top the list with 13 seasons. Here’s a look the teams that have reached the 60-win mark in at least one NBA season.

21 May 2012: Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen (20), Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30), Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett (5) and Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) are seen during the Boston Celtics 101-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, at the TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

21 May 2012: Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen (20), Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30), Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett (5) and Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) are seen during the Boston Celtics 101-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, at the TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

60-win seasons, team(s)
13: Boston Celtics
11: Los Angeles Lakers
6: Chicago Bulls
5: San Antonio Spurs
4: Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers
3: Dallas Mavs, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz
2: Cleveland Cavs, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, New York Knicks
1: Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards

The nine teams that have never won 60 or more games in an NBA season: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors.

Can the Warriors reach the 66-win mark (for only the second 66-win back-to-back seasons in league history), the 70-win mark (for only the second time in league history) or the 73-win mark (to break the Bulls’ record)? There are a lot of games left in the season, but avoiding a major injury to any of their key players, they should make the last 60 games of this season very interesting.

 

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