With the San Antonio Spurs’ 19-game winning streak finally coming to a halt on Thursday night at Oklahoma City, we felt it was the perfect time to take a look at–and rank–the NBA’s most impressive winning streaks of all time.
To be clear: when determining what streaks were “more impressive” than others, the length of the winning streak was not the sole element considered. Other factors taken into account included–but were not limited to–strength of schedule, average margin of victory, the point in the season (the closer to the playoffs, the better), and the era in which the streak occurred.
But, without any further ado, here are the five most impressive winning streaks in NBA history:
[RELATED: The Worst Losing Streaks In NBA History]
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5. 2007-08 Houston Rockets; 22-game winning streak
In 2008, the Rockets reeled of 22 straight wins–the third-longest winning streak of all time–from late-January through mid-March. It was a streak that helped turn around their season, at least at the time. Prior to the run, they were only four games better than .500 (24-20). But, by streak’s end, they found themselves 26 games above the .500 mark.
So why, according to me, is Houston’s streak only the fifth-most impressive of all time? Well, for starters, it didn’t really lead to anything extraordinary. The Rockets finally lost on March 18, and they played out the remainder of the season only slightly above .500 (9-7) before suffering a first round playoff exit.
It was a nice, memorable winning streak, but because of its influence–or lack thereof–on the 2007-08 NBA season, I can’t rank it any better than fifth-most impressive.
4. 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs; 19-game winning streak
I know, I know. This surely comes across as a prisoner-of-the-moment pick, but let’s at least step back and appreciate what the Spurs just pulled off. From the end of February until early-April, they won 19 straight games and never really even came close to losing. The Spurs beat the Bobcats by 10; they beat the Heat by 24; they beat the potentially-playoff-bound Mavericks; they won by eight at Chicago; they beat the Trail Blazers by 13; they beat the Warriors twice (by nine and by 21); and they won at Indiana by 26. Those are eight wins against playoff teams, and only one of the games (home against Dallas) was ever even in question.
Throughout the entirety of the streak, San Antonio had an average margin of victory of nearly 17 points–that’s pure dominance. So, no, the Spurs’ streak wasn’t the fourth-longest winning streak of all time, but the fashion in which they won against the caliber of teams they played–combined with the fact that the streak allowed them to all but clinch homecourt advantage–was enough to make their run the fourth-best winning streak in NBA history.
3. 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers; 19-game winning streak
To this day, I still believe the 2001 Lakers were–at least from April to June–arguably the most dominating team of all time. They finished the regular season with eight straight victories, which, while it was a nice little streak, was nothing in comparison to what would come next.
In the playoffs, Los Angeles won three in a row against Portland (a sweep in the then best-of-five first round) before proceeding to also sweep both the Sacramento Kings and the San Antonio Spurs to clinch a berth in the NBA Finals. The Lakers won six of those 11 games by double-digits and won by fewer than six points only once (a three-point win over the Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals).
And, if it weren’t for Allen Iverson‘s 48-point outburst in Game 1 of the Finals, the Lakers would have swept through the entire postseason (they won Games 2 through 5 over the Sixers) and finished the year on a 23-game winning streak.
What the 2001 Lakers did by sweeping through the Western Conference Playoffs and nearly going undefeated in the postseason is something that, in my opinion, we will never see again. That’s how special those Lakers were, and how special their streak was.