What are the longest winning and losing streaks in NBA history? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Phoenix Suns have put their slow start to the 2021-22 NBA season well behind them.
After dropping three of their first four games, the reigning Western Conference champions have reeled off 17 consecutive victories, tied for the longest winning streak in franchise history.
Their latest victory came on Tuesday night against the NBA-best Golden State Warriors in Phoenix. The Suns entered the heavyweight showdown trailing Golden State by one game in the standings, but left it with an identical 18-3 record thanks to a 104-96 win. Not only did Phoenix hold Stephen Curry to just 12 points, but they were able to take down the Dubs despite star guard Devin Booker exiting in the first half with a hamstring injury.
Chris Paul and Co. need just one more win to break the franchise record winning streak, but how many more victories are required to break the NBA record?
What is the longest winning streak in NBA history?
If the Suns want to be the owners of the longest single-season winning streak in NBA history, they can’t lose another game until early January. That’s because the mark they need to track down is 33.
The Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA-record 33 straight games in 1971-72. Despite losing Elgin Baylor to retirement early in the season, the Lakers didn’t drop a single matchup from Nov. 11, 1971, to Jan. 2, 1972. Of course, L.A. still had Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, and they went on to capture the 1972 championship.
The Warriors have the second-longest winning streak overall at 28 games, stretching from the end of the 2014-15 season (four straight wins) into the beginning of the 2015-16 season (24 straight wins).
But the team that’s come closest to matching the Lakers’ single-season record is the 2012-13 Miami Heat. The Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh won 27 consecutive games in their third season together. The Chicago Bulls snapped Miami’s streak with a 101-97 win on March 27, 2013. However, the Heat would get payback in the playoffs, beating Chicago in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to a second consecutive championship.
The 2015-16 Warriors (24 straight wins), 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20) are the only other teams in NBA history to win at least 20 consecutive games in one season. For the Suns to join that exclusive club, they need to beat the Detroit Pistons at home (Dec. 2), the Warriors on the road (Dec. 3) and the San Antonio Spurs at home (Dec. 6).
Phoenix is currently tied with seven other teams for the 14th-longest single-season winning streak. Here’s a look at the teams ahead of them:
1. Los Angeles Lakers, 1971-72: 33
2. Miami Heat, 2012-13: 27
3. Golden State Warriors, 2015-16: 24
4. Houston Rockets, 2007-08: 22
5. Milwaukee Bucks, 1970-71: 20
T-6. Los Angeles Lakers, 1999-2000: 19
T-6. Boston Celtics, 2008-09: 19
T-6. San Antonio Spurs, 2013-14: 19
T-6. Atlanta Hawks, 2014-15: 19
T-10. New York Knicks, 1969-70: 18
T-10. Boston Celtics, 1981-82: 18
T-10. Chicago Bulls, 1995-96: 18
T-10. Milwaukee Bucks, 2019-20: 18
What is the longest losing streak in NBA history?
The longest single-season losing streak in NBA history is 26 games, and it’s been achieved twice.
The Cleveland Cavaliers quickly learned life without LeBron James isn’t easy. In the first season after he departed to Miami, the 2010-11 Cavs broke the NBA record with a 26-game losing streak. Cleveland won just 19 games that season, but all that losing wasn’t for naught. The Cavaliers landed the No. 1 overall pick in the subsequent draft lottery and used it to select Kyrie Irving.
Prior to the 2010-11 Cavs, the longest single-season losing streak was 23 games, which was done by three teams: the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies, 1997-98 Denver Nuggets and 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats.
A few seasons after Cleveland’s 26-game skid, the Philadelphia 76ers endured the exact same thing. The Sixers began the first year of “The Process” era in 2013-14 with a stunning 3-0 start before crashing back down to earth. Philadelphia went nearly two months without a victory but blew out the Detroit Pistons on March 29, 2014, to avoid suffering a record-breaking 27th straight loss. Similar to the 2010-11 Cavs, the Sixers won 19 games that season and turned their high draft pick into a superstar: Joel Embiid.
Over the following two seasons, the Sixers would set the longest losing streak overall in NBA history. They lost their final 10 games of the 2014-15 season before dropping the first 18 games of the 2015-16 campaign for a 28-game skid.
Here’s a full look at the longest single-season losing streaks in NBA history:
T-1. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2010-11: 26
T-1. Philadelphia 76ers, 2013-14: 26
T-3. Vancouver Grizzlies, 1995-96: 23
T-3. Denver Nuggets, 1997-98: 23
T-3. Charlotte Bobcats, 2011-12: 23
T-6. Philadelphia 76ers, 1972-73: 20
T-6. Dallas Mavericks, 1993-94: 20
T-6. Houston Rockets, 2020-21: 20
T-9. San Diego Clippers, 1981-82: 19
T-9. Cleveland Cavaliers, 1981-82: 19
T-9. Los Angeles Clippers, 1988-89: 19
T-9. Dallas Mavericks, 1992-93: 19
T-9. Vancouver Grizzlies, 1995-96: 19
T-9. Orlando Magic, 2003-04: 19
T-9. Memphis Grizzlies, 2017-18: 19