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.
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.