With their 15th straight win, the Celtics are now tied for 29th on the all-time NBA win streak list.
The young C’s thus join the “top 30” streak list. They thus join such solid (but non-title-winning) teams as the 92-93 and 93-94 Houston Rockets, the 1994 New York Knicks, the 1996 and 1997 Utah Jazz, and others.
One more win (16 total) vaults them into truly rarefied air. The top 22 bekcons, along with NBA rosters most of which won at least one NBA title during the ensuing postseason or several seasons.
What does it all mean? Well, as the table nearby suggests,
While there are always dangers in generalization, there are several trends or characteristics of teams that reach streaks of 15 games or more that seem to hold true.
Streaking isn’t everything….
1. You don’t always win the NBA title, either in that year, or ensuing years. “Duh.”
Then again… most of the teams on the list did win a title, either in the year of their streak or in the ensuing years (with essentially the same core roster.) Nearly all made a finals run or two.
2. And, on the other hand, most great teams, especially teams that make multi-year runs to the finals and the championship, do have a streak or two — especially early in their formation.
… but it’s pretty good
Pick almost any dynasty, or even teams that had an awesome one-year run to the title, and you’ll probably find it on the streak list. For example: The 50s-60s Celtics, the 80s Lakers and Celtics, the Duncan Spurs. Also: the “LeBron Decision” team in Miami, the 69-70 Knicks, Jordan and Pippen, Shaq and Kobie. They’re all somewhere in that top 20 list.
In other words, while achieving a streak like this doesn’t guarantee future playoff greatness, it usually precedes it — especially streaks by young teams or recently assembled teams early in their growth curve.
3. The streaks by those teams came at various times during the season. There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between “peaking too early,” peaking too late, etc. To paraphrase the Faber College motto, “winning games is good.”
This is true even in the regular season, given that (as well) “home court advantage is good.” It’s just not (as the Celtics learned last year) always decisive.
So, above all: Whatever you take from our table and the rest of this series:
It’s okay to just sit back, relax, and enjoy every consecutive win that the Celtics can rack up from here on out. In fact, we encourage it.
Getting to 20 in a row, as the 2008 Houston Rockets and the 1948 Washington Capitols can tell you, doesn’t mean a banner.
Then again, having the streak stopped at 15, 16, or whatever, won’t be a crushing defeat either.
It’s a long road to banner 18… and then, on to 19, 20, 21. (Now we are talking “Celtic Fan Arithmetic.”) But winning 15 regular season games in a row, at some point in this roster’s evolution, while not sufficient, is probably a necessary achievement.
One game at a time — just how the streak was built. The Celtics are on to Dallas….
(In part two of this series, we’ll review some of the top-20 win streaks of all time. For now, we’ve tabulated what the streakers of history did come playoff time, with the help of BasketballReference.com).