With the Detriot Pistons beating the Pacers today, the Blazers now claim the best record in all of basketball. I can’t remember the Blazers having the best record in the NBA since they were 3-0 a few years back. Since we have a larger sample size now (almost 1/3 of the season) I wanted to do some research about other teams that were atop the standings on December 16th since 1990, when coincidentally it was the Blazers who had the best record.
2012 – Thunder (19-4) : Lost in Conf semis
2011 – Lockout year
2010 – Spurs (22-3) : Lost first round
2009 – Celtics and Lakers (20-4) : Faced each other in finals with Lakers taking the title.
2008 – Celtics (23-2) : Lost Conf. semis
2007 – Celtics (20-2) : Won title
2006 – Spurs (19-6) : Won title
2005 – Pistons (17-3) : Lost conf finals
2004 – Suns (19-3) : Lost conf finals
2003 – Lakers (18-5) : Lost finals
2002 – Mavericks (20-3) : Lost conf finals
2001 – Lakers (18-3) : Won Finals
2000 – 76ers (18-6) : Lost finals
1999 – Lakers (19-5) : Won finals
1998 – Lockout season
1997 – Supersonics (19-5) : Lost Conf semis
1996 – Rockets (21-2) : Lost Conf finals
1995 – Bulls (19-2) : Won finals
1994 – Magic (18-4) : Lost finals
1993 – Rockets (20-1) : Won finals
1992 – Suns (15-4) : Lost finals
1991 – Bulls (18-3) : Won finals
1990 – Trailblazers (21-2) : Lost Conf finals.
The team that was leading the league in the standings made it to the finals 14 of the last 22 times in the last 21 years (one year the Lakers and Boston were tied for the best), and seven of those teams won it all. 19 of the 22 teams made it at least to the Conference finals. Only once did a team not win a playoff series and that was when the Memphis Grizzlies beat the banged up Spurs in 2010.
What does this mean for the Blazers? Well, anything could happen but it looks like history is on the Blazers side for them to finally win a playoff series.
At the beginning of the year I think every Blazer fan would have been ecstatic with a playoff birth but maybe this team is primed for a deep run. 21 of the last 22 teams that had the best record as of december 16th have won at least one series, and again 19 of 22 winning two series. If the Blazers can stay healthy, maybe they can have a deep run in the playoffs, or at least win a series something they haven’t done since 2000, the longest drought in the NBA.