Here are a couple of quick trivia questions for you: Name the two teams that have beaten the eventual NBA champs in at least one game in each of the last five seasons? Can you name the two teams that have not won a game against the eventual league champ in the last six seasons? (Answer later on in this column.)
The Milwaukee Bucks ended the Golden State Warriors streak of 24 straight victories to start the season with a 108-95 win in Milwaukee on December 12. Less than a week later the Bucks had a lead in the fourth quarter but could not close the deal and lost to the Warriors 121-112. Two great games by the young Bucks team against the league’s best team… especially when you consider that they (the Bucks) have not played as well as many expected them to this year. The Bucks are currently 11-18, 13th in the Eastern Conference standings.
Some teams, despite their record, seem to play very well against the better teams in the league. If the Warriors go on to repeat as champs this season, the Bucks may be looked at as one of those teams that gave the champs a challenge in 2015-16.
Last season, only one team, the San Antonio Spurs, were able to beat the champs, the Warriors, in more than one game. The Spurs were 2-1 against the champion Warriors last season. Thirteen teams had one win against Golden State in 2014-15 while 15 teams did not beat the Warriors last season.
Over the last six seasons, the Spurs have been one of the NBA’s top teams. They are also one of only two teams to have won at least half of their games against the eventual league champs since the 2009-10 season. They are 7-7 (.500) against the team that won the NBA title in each of the past six seasons (they were 2-1 against Golden State in 2014-15; they won the title in 2013-14; they were 0-2 against Miami in 2012-13; 0-1 against Miami in 2011-12; 3-1 against Dallas in 2010-11; and 2-2 against the Lakers in 2009-10). The other team that was at .500 against the eventual champs in the last six years are the Chicago Bulls. They were 8-8 in against the champs.
Following is a look at the record of each team against the teams that won the titles in each of the last six seasons.
Chicago 8-8 (.500); San Antonio 7-7 (.500)
Denver 8-10 (.444); Portland 7-9 (.438); Oklahoma City 8-11 (.421); Memphis 7-10 (.412); Indiana 6-9 (.400)
L.A. Clippers 6-11 (.353); L.A. Lakers 5-10 (.333); Milwaukee 5-10 (.333); Boston 5-11 (.313)
N.Y. Knicks 4-11 (.267); Houston 5-14 (.263); Orlando 4-12 (.250); Miami 2-6 (.250); Detroit 3-10 (.231); New Orleans 4-14 (.222); Utah 4-15 (.211); Cleveland 3-12 (.200); Golden State 3-12 (.200); Washington 3-12 (.200)
Atlanta 3-13 (.188); Brooklyn 2-10 (.167); Phoenix 3-16 (.158); Toronto 2-12 (.143); Dallas 2-14 (.125)
Charlotte 1-14 (.067); Minnesota 1-15 (.063); Philadelphia 0-16 (.000); Sacramento 0-17 (.000)
Two teams, the Bulls and Pacers, have won at least one game against the eventual champ that season in each of the last five seasons. As you could probably have guessed from the numbers above, the 76ers and Kings are the two teams that have not won a game against an eventual champ over the last six years. The last eventual champ that the 76ers defeated were the 2009 champion Lakers who the 76ers defeated on March 17, 2009. That same season is the last time the Kings defeated an eventual champ; they beat the Lakers on December 9, 2008.
One final note: There are two teams went 4-0 against the eventual champ in a season over the past six seasons. Coincidentally, it happened in the same season. The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder each went 4-0 against the Spurs in 2013-14, the year the Spurs won the title.