The Miami Heat have just set a new franchise record for consecutive wins with 23. The connecting link? Dwyane Wade and to a lesser extent Udonis Haslem, who were on the team in 2004-2005 and still are in 2013, with LeBron James leading the way. Still, it isn’t even half the way to the all-time record by the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Heat aren’t the only team to set a franchise record for consecutive wins this season, with the Los Angeles Clippers going perfect in December 2012 as part of their 17 game win-streak.
Los Angeles Lakers – 33
The 1971-1972 Lakers finished the season with a 69-13 record, finally winning the NBA title with Jerry West and Gail Goodrich leading the team in scoring and Wilt Chamberlain in the passing phase of his career. Elgin Baylor was also on that team, but retired before getting the chance to win the title.
Houston Rockets – 22
The Rockets won 22 consecutive games in the 2007-2008 season despite losing Yao Ming to a season ending injury, and Tracy McGrady, as always, not being with them for 100% of the time. Player like Rafer Alston, Luis Scola and Shane Battier stepped up to lead the Rockets to a 55-27 record, but lost in the first round of the playoffs, as always.
San Antonio Spurs – 20
Tony Parker led the San Antonio Spurs to 20 consecutive wins – 10 to end the regular season (finishing with the best in the NBA 50-16, tied with the Bulls) and 10 more in the postseason before getting swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals after going up 2-0.
Milwaukee Bucks – 20
When the Bucks won 20 straight games and later the NBA title, Lew Alcindor wasn’t yet Kareem Adbul-Jabbar. He changed his name a day after winning the NBA title next to Oscar Robretson, sweeping through the finals against the Baltimore Bullets.
Boston Celtics – 19
The Boston Celtics opened their title defense campaign with a 27-2 run till New Year’s, which included 19 straight wins from November to December. They finished the season with a 62-20 record, losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic.
Chicago Bulls – 18
It’s fitting that the Bulls’ best streak comes from their greatest season ever, finishing with an NBA record 72 wins. Michael Jordan was going through his first full season in his post-baseball career phase, leading the Bulls to their fourth NBA title in the beginning of the second three-peat, beating the Seattle Supersonics in the final.
New York Knicks – 18
Led by Willis Reed and Walt Frazier, the Knicks had their big winning streak early in the season, finishing with a 60-22 record, en route to their first NBA title under Red Holzman. Interesting to think they averaged 115 points per game, and finished 11th in the NBA in scoring.
Los Angeles Clippers – 17
The Clippers are on their way to the greatest season ever in franchise history, which also might give them a rare finish above the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings. The streak meant they finished undefeated through the entire month of December.
Dallas Mavericks – 17
The Dallas Mavericks finished with a 67-15 record in the 2006-2007 season, the best in the NBA, while Dirk Nowitzki became the first European player to win the MVP award. They also made quite a mess of things in the postseason, losing to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.
Phoenix Suns – 17
Maybe the best of Nash’s Suns teams (18.6 points, 11.6 assists), as they finished with a 61-21 record but the basketball that worked so well in the regular season couldn’t make it past the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals.
Portland Trail Blazers – 16
The 1990-1991 Blazers were the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season, led by Clyde Drexler (21.5 points per game) and Terry Porter. They began the season on 19-1, with the 16 win streak coming later. They lost to the Lakers in the conference finals.
Utah Jazz – 15
The Jazz have two 15-game winning streaks during the same season, in 1996-1997. That season they made they first NBA finals during the Malone-Stockton era, losing to the Chicago Bulls in six games for the first time.
Sacramento Kings – 15
The oldest franchise winning streak in the NBA came in the 1949-1950 season, when the Rochester Royals, led by Bob Davies, went to win 15 games in a row. That team finished with a 51-17 record, losing in the Central Division Semifinals against the Fort Wayne Pistons.
Miami Heat – 23
LeBron James is currently leading the Miami Heat on a 23 game winning streak, beating the franchise record from the 2004-2005 season, when Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade led the team to a 59-23 record, reaching the Eastern Conference finals before losing in 7 games to the Detroit Pistons.
Orlando Magic – 14
The 2009-2010 edition of the Orlando Magic was the last really good season of the SVG with Dwight Howad era, reaching the Eastern finals for a second consecutive time, losing to the Boston Celtics, after finishing the regular season with a 59-23 record.
Brooklyn Nets – 14
The 2005-2006 New Jersey Nets finished the regular season with a 49-33 record, led by a healthy Vince Cater, Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd. They lost in the conference semifinals to the Miami Heat, who ended up winning the NBA title.
Oklahoma City Thunder – 14
The 90’s were very kind to the Seattle Supersonics (the earlier version of the Thunder), but they were at their best in the 1995-1996 season, finishing with a 64-18 record under George Karl, blowing by the Kings, Rockets and Jazz (sweating, actually, against them) before losing to the Chicago Bulls in the final.
Atlanta Hawks – 14
The 1993-1994 season was Dominique Wilkins’ last with the Atlanta Hawks, but he was part of the 14 game winning streak before getting traded to the Clippers for Danny Manning. The Hawks finished with a 57-25 record in a season everyone felt they can win the NBA title. The Hawks lost in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Philadelphia 76ers – 14
A fantastic Philadelphia 76ers team finished the season with a 65-17 record, led by Moses Malone, Julius Erving and Andrew Toney. Malone predicted the famous fo, fo and fo, which was almost right, as they beat the Lakers in an amazing sweep in the NBA finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 13
In LeBron James’ last season in Cleveland, he was paired with an again Shaq, Mo Williams, J.J. Hickson and other irrelevant players. They finished 61-21, but lost in six games to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern semifinals, before James made his ‘decision.’
Detroit Pistons – 13
The Detroit Pistons in 2003-2004 weren’t supposed to win the NBA title, but landed Rasheed Wallace before the trade deadline and a title team was born, beating the Nets in 7 games, the Pacers in 6 and then surprising the NBA world by beating the Lakers in the finals 4-1.
Indiana Pacers – 12
The great Knicks – Pacers rivalry of the 90’s was born that season thanks to Reggie Miller, who led the Pacers to a winning streak that included a sweep of the Orlando Magic in the first round of the postseason. They lost to the Knicks in a brutal 7 game series in the conference finals.
Denver Nuggets – 12
The early 80’s Nuggets were a special team, and the 1982 version under Doug Moe averaged over 126 points per game (also giving up that much), with Alex English, Dan Issel and Kiki Vandeweghe all averaging over 20 points per game. That team didn’t make it through the first round of the playoffs.
Minnesota Timberwolves – 11
The Timberwolves have two winning streaks of 11 games, both during the Kevin Garnett era – the only period of success for the franchise, waiting for their first playoff appearance since he left. The first came in the 2000-2001 season and the second in the 2003-2004 season, as the streak stretched into the playoffs, which ended with the Lakers beating them in the conference finals.
Golden State Warriors – 11
This was the first season for the franchise with the Golden State name. They finished with a 51-31 record in 1971-1972, led by Jeff Mullins, Nate Thurmond and Cazzie Russell, all scoring over 21 points per game. They were knocked out in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks.
New Orleans Hornets – 10
In 1997-1998, the Hornets were still playing in Charlotte, but in the post Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning era. Glen Rice and Anthony Mason led the team to a 51-31 record and made the conference semifinals, losing in 5 games to the Chicago Bulls.
Toronto Raptors – 9
In 2001-2002, the Toronto Raptors won nine games late in the season, becoming the first team in NBA history to go winless in 13 consecutive games and still make the playoffs, where they lost in the first round.
Washington Wizards – 9
The Washington Wizards (or Bullets) reached the nine game winning streak mark four times in the franchise’s history – 1968, 1969, in 1978 when they won the NBA title and in the 2001-2002 season, with Michael Jordan during his second comeback season.
Memphis Grizzlies – 9
The 2003-2004 Memphis Grizzlies were led by Pau Gasol to a franchise record 50 wins, aiding Hubie Brown win coach of the year and Jerry West win executive of the year.
Charlotte Bobcats – 6
The Charlotte Bobcats made the playoffs only once since the formation of the failing franchise; in 2009-2010 they finished the season with a 44-38 record, losing to the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs. It’s only been downhill from there.