I’ve been at this a few days now; searching for some sort of benchmark for the Celtics greatness and I just keep coming up with the same conclusion — This current Celtics team has already made history. Allow me to illustrate.
From today’s Boston Herald
The Celtics, with their 15th straight win, now have the fourth longest streak in franchise history behind the 1981-82 team (18 straight), 1959-60 (17) and 1964-65 (16).
At 23-2, the Celtics are also tied with the 1994-95 Bulls for the fourth-best start in league history for a team with only two losses.
Only two teams – the 1966-67 Sixers and 1969-70 Knicks – have started better. Both teams share the league record at 26-2.
Then again, this team continues to be unimpressed by these numbers.
“What do we get for that?” Pierce said facetiously of the winning streak.
This is the standard logic, that while this team is off to the best start in franchise history (23-2), they still trail a couple teams for the best start in NBA history, which is fine to say. I don’t mind being mentioned in such elite company, but it remains to be seen if the Celtics can run the table to Christmas and break the all-time record. I don’t know if they can because to me, one of the next four games certainly looks like a trap, perhaps Atlanta in Atlanta, Chicago, or even the Knicks and Sixers look dangerous when you’re talking about winning streaks in the high teens.
However, one thing the writers are missing is the fact that we are repeat champions! And, what I’m trying to say is no team has EVER come out of the gate this intense, focused, and dominant after winning a title. Yesterday, we looked at the 90′s Bulls and today we’re going to run through several more of the great championship teams and how they fared defending their titles. Let’s go to the numbers, which are all provided by Basketball-Reference.com
The 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers won 68 games that season and had a 26-2 start. The team didn’t pick up their third loss until getting beaten by the Celtics on Dec. 11, 1966 (the season started in early October then). However, this team wasn’t coming off a championship, it was coming off a loss in the division finals to the Boston Celtics. The 1967-68 defending championship team for the Sixers won 62 games and came out of the gate 17-8 through 25 games. You see what I’m getting at here right? Yes, they were dominant for their championship season, but as defending champions they came out significantly slower. When you take that into account you start to see that this current Celtics team is doing something completely unheard of. But you want more proof.
The 1969-70 Knicks, which won 60-games that year on route to the title, started 26-2. However, in the next season, as defending champions, they came out 18-7 through 25 games and were eliminated in the conference finals.
The 1984-85 Boston Celtics, which won 63 games in their title defense went 21-3 to start the season and had a 10-game win streak in March, lost in the Finals to the Lakers.
The 1981-82 Boston Celtics, which also won 63 games in their defense went 19-5 out of the gate, but also had an 18-game win streak, before losing in the conference finals.
The 1964-65 Boston Celtics, the most dominant record wise of the 60′s Dynasty with 62 wins, went 18-6 out of the gate and posted winning streaks of 11 and 16 games before winning their, ahem, 7th title in a row.
The 1987-88 Lakers, coming off their title in 87′ came out of the gate at 19-7, on their way to winning 62 games and a second straight title.
The 2001-02 Lakers had the best start of any of their three-peat at 20-5 in their second consecutive title defense.
None of the Spurs championship teams ever successfully defended their title, and none of their team’s topped the 19-6 start of the 05-06′ title defense.
So, you see, what you’re witnessing is history in the making, and pardon me Hillary, We’re living it.