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Best At the Break

Posted by Neil Paine on February 16, 2010

Regular-season play resumes tonight after 5 days off for the All-Star break, so I thought it would be interesting to look at every NBA season and see how the team with the best record at the break fared the rest of the year:

Pre-Break Post-Break
Year Team W L WPct LgRk W L WPct Playoffs ConfChamp NBAChamp
1951 Minneapolis Lakers 39 21 0.650 1/11 5 3 0.625 1 0 0
1952 Syracuse Nationals 32 15 0.681 1/10 8 11 0.421 1 0 0
1953 Minneapolis Lakers 28 9 0.757 1/10 20 13 0.606 1 0 1
1954 New York Knickerbockers 28 12 0.700 1/9 16 16 0.500 0 0 0
1955 Fort Wayne Pistons 26 13 0.667 1/8 17 16 0.515 1 0 0
1956 Philadelphia Warriors 27 13 0.675 1/8 18 14 0.563 1 0 1
1957 Boston Celtics 23 14 0.622 1/8 21 14 0.600 1 0 1
1958 Boston Celtics 29 12 0.707 1/8 20 11 0.645 1 0 0
1959 St. Louis Hawks 31 12 0.721 1/8 18 11 0.621 1 0 0
1960 Boston Celtics 36 10 0.783 1/8 23 6 0.793 1 0 1
1961 Boston Celtics 32 13 0.711 1/8 25 9 0.735 1 0 1
1962 Boston Celtics 34 8 0.810 1/9 26 12 0.684 1 0 1
1963 Los Angeles Lakers 34 11 0.756 1/9 19 16 0.543 1 0 0
1964 Boston Celtics 28 9 0.757 1/9 31 12 0.721 1 0 1
1965 Boston Celtics 37 7 0.841 1/9 25 11 0.694 1 0 1
1966 Boston Celtics 27 11 0.711 1/9 27 15 0.643 1 0 1
1967 Philadelphia 76ers 39 4 0.907 1/10 29 9 0.763 1 0 1
1968 St. Louis Hawks 37 14 0.725 1/12 19 12 0.613 1 0 0
1969 Baltimore Bullets 33 11 0.750 1/14 24 14 0.632 1 0 0
1970 New York Knickerbockers 38 11 0.776 1/14 22 11 0.667 1 0 1
1971 Milwaukee Bucks 35 7 0.833 1/17 31 9 0.775 1 1 1
1972 Los Angeles Lakers 41 5 0.891 1/17 28 8 0.778 1 1 1
1973 Boston Celtics 39 7 0.848 1/17 29 7 0.806 1 0 0
1974 Boston Celtics 32 9 0.780 1/17 24 17 0.585 1 1 1
1975 Washington Bullets 29 12 0.707 1/18 31 10 0.756 1 1 0
1976 Golden State Warriors 35 13 0.729 1/18 24 10 0.706 1 0 0
1977 Los Angeles Lakers 35 19 0.648 1/22 18 10 0.643 1 0 0
1978 Portland Trail Blazers 40 8 0.833 1/22 18 16 0.529 1 0 0
1979 Washington Bullets 36 15 0.706 1/22 18 13 0.581 1 1 0
1980 Boston Celtics 40 13 0.755 1/22 21 8 0.724 1 0 0
1981 Philadelphia 76ers 44 10 0.815 1/23 18 10 0.643 1 0 0
1982 Boston Celtics 32 11 0.744 1/23 31 8 0.795 1 0 0
1983 Philadelphia 76ers 43 7 0.860 1/23 22 10 0.688 1 1 1
1984 Boston Celtics 34 9 0.791 1/23 28 11 0.718 1 1 1
1985 Boston Celtics 41 9 0.820 1/23 22 10 0.688 1 1 0
1986 Boston Celtics 38 8 0.826 1/23 29 7 0.806 1 1 1
1987 Los Angeles Lakers 35 12 0.745 1/23 30 5 0.857 1 1 1
1988 Los Angeles Lakers 35 8 0.814 1/23 27 12 0.692 1 1 1
1989 Cleveland Cavaliers 35 11 0.761 1/25 22 14 0.611 1 0 0
1990 Los Angeles Lakers 35 11 0.761 1/27 28 8 0.778 1 0 0
1991 Portland Trail Blazers 39 9 0.813 1/27 24 10 0.706 1 0 0
1992 Chicago Bulls 39 9 0.813 1/27 28 6 0.824 1 1 1
1993 Phoenix Suns 38 10 0.792 1/27 24 10 0.706 1 1 0
1994 Seattle Supersonics 35 10 0.778 1/27 28 9 0.757 1 0 0
1995 Phoenix Suns 38 10 0.792 1/27 21 13 0.618 1 0 0
1996 Chicago Bulls 42 5 0.894 1/29 30 5 0.857 1 1 1
1997 Chicago Bulls 42 6 0.875 1/29 27 7 0.794 1 1 1
1998 Seattle Supersonics 37 10 0.787 1/29 24 11 0.686 1 0 0
2000 Portland Trail Blazers 38 11 0.776 1/29 21 12 0.636 1 0 0
2001 Philadelphia 76ers 36 14 0.720 1/29 20 12 0.625 1 1 0
2002 Sacramento Kings 37 12 0.755 1/29 24 9 0.727 1 0 0
2003 Dallas Mavericks 38 10 0.792 1/29 22 12 0.647 1 0 0
2004 Sacramento Kings 37 13 0.740 1/29 18 14 0.563 1 0 0
2005 San Antonio Spurs 41 12 0.774 1/30 18 11 0.621 1 1 1
2006 Detroit Pistons 42 9 0.824 1/30 22 9 0.710 1 0 0
2007 Dallas Mavericks 44 9 0.830 1/30 23 6 0.793 1 0 0
2008 Boston Celtics 41 9 0.820 1/30 25 7 0.781 1 1 1
2009 Los Angeles Lakers 42 10 0.808 1/30 23 7 0.767 1 1 1
2010 Cleveland Cavaliers 43 11 0.796 1/30 ? ? ? ? ? ?

Here are the best records ever at the All-Star break:

Pre-Break Post-Break
Year Team W L WPct LgRk W L WPct Playoffs ConfChamp NBAChamp
1967 Philadelphia 76ers 39 4 0.907 1/10 29 9 0.763 1 0 1
1996 Chicago Bulls 42 5 0.894 1/29 30 5 0.857 1 1 1
1972 Los Angeles Lakers 41 5 0.891 1/17 28 8 0.778 1 1 1
1997 Chicago Bulls 42 6 0.875 1/29 27 7 0.794 1 1 1
1983 Philadelphia 76ers 43 7 0.860 1/23 22 10 0.688 1 1 1
1973 Boston Celtics 39 7 0.848 1/17 29 7 0.806 1 0 0
1965 Boston Celtics 37 7 0.841 1/9 25 11 0.694 1 0 1
1971 Milwaukee Bucks 35 7 0.833 1/17 31 9 0.775 1 1 1
1978 Portland Trail Blazers 40 8 0.833 1/22 18 16 0.529 1 0 0
2007 Dallas Mavericks 44 9 0.830 1/30 23 6 0.793 1 0 0
1986 Boston Celtics 38 8 0.826 1/23 29 7 0.806 1 1 1
2006 Detroit Pistons 42 9 0.824 1/30 22 9 0.710 1 0 0
1985 Boston Celtics 41 9 0.820 1/23 22 10 0.688 1 1 0
2008 Boston Celtics 41 9 0.820 1/30 25 7 0.781 1 1 1
1981 Philadelphia 76ers 44 10 0.815 1/23 18 10 0.643 1 0 0
1988 Los Angeles Lakers 35 8 0.814 1/23 27 12 0.692 1 1 1
1991 Portland Trail Blazers 39 9 0.813 1/27 24 10 0.706 1 0 0
1992 Chicago Bulls 39 9 0.813 1/27 28 6 0.824 1 1 1
1981 Boston Celtics 43 10 0.811 2/23 19 10 0.655 1 1 1
1962 Boston Celtics 34 8 0.810 1/9 26 12 0.684 1 0 1
2009 Los Angeles Lakers 42 10 0.808 1/30 23 7 0.767 1 1 1
2009 Boston Celtics 44 11 0.800 2/30 18 9 0.667 1 0 0
2010 Cleveland Cavaliers 43 11 0.796 1/30 ? ? ? ? ? ?
1985 Philadelphia 76ers 39 10 0.796 2/23 19 14 0.576 1 0 0
1993 Phoenix Suns 38 10 0.792 1/27 24 10 0.706 1 1 0
1995 Phoenix Suns 38 10 0.792 1/27 21 13 0.618 1 0 0
2003 Dallas Mavericks 38 10 0.792 1/29 22 12 0.647 1 0 0
1972 Milwaukee Bucks 38 10 0.792 2/17 25 9 0.735 1 0 0
1984 Boston Celtics 34 9 0.791 1/23 28 11 0.718 1 1 1
2006 Dallas Mavericks 41 11 0.788 2/30 19 11 0.633 1 1 0
1998 Seattle Supersonics 37 10 0.787 1/29 24 11 0.686 1 0 0
1995 Orlando Magic 37 10 0.787 2/27 20 15 0.571 1 1 0
2009 Cleveland Cavaliers 40 11 0.784 3/30 26 5 0.839 1 0 0
1960 Boston Celtics 36 10 0.783 1/8 23 6 0.793 1 0 1
1974 Boston Celtics 32 9 0.780 1/17 24 17 0.585 1 1 1
1994 Seattle Supersonics 35 10 0.778 1/27 28 9 0.757 1 0 0
1974 Milwaukee Bucks 35 10 0.778 2/17 24 13 0.649 1 1 0
1970 New York Knickerbockers 38 11 0.776 1/14 22 11 0.667 1 0 1
2000 Portland Trail Blazers 38 11 0.776 1/29 21 12 0.636 1 0 0
1983 Los Angeles Lakers 38 11 0.776 2/23 20 13 0.606 1 1 0
2005 San Antonio Spurs 41 12 0.774 1/30 18 11 0.621 1 1 1
1986 Los Angeles Lakers 37 11 0.771 2/23 25 9 0.735 1 0 0
2000 Los Angeles Lakers 37 11 0.771 2/29 30 4 0.882 1 1 1
2006 San Antonio Spurs 40 12 0.769 3/30 23 7 0.767 1 0 0
1973 Los Angeles Lakers 36 11 0.766 2/17 24 11 0.686 1 1 0
1973 New York Knickerbockers 39 12 0.765 3/17 18 13 0.581 1 1 1
1989 Cleveland Cavaliers 35 11 0.761 1/25 22 14 0.611 1 0 0
1990 Los Angeles Lakers 35 11 0.761 1/27 28 8 0.778 1 0 0
1991 Los Angeles Lakers 35 11 0.761 2/27 23 13 0.639 1 1 0
1983 Boston Celtics 38 12 0.760 3/23 18 14 0.563 1 0 0
2005 Phoenix Suns 41 13 0.759 2/30 21 7 0.750 1 0 0
2010 Los Angeles Lakers 41 13 0.759 2/30 ? ? ? ? ? ?
1953 Minneapolis Lakers 28 9 0.757 1/10 20 13 0.606 1 0 1
1964 Boston Celtics 28 9 0.757 1/9 31 12 0.721 1 0 1
1963 Los Angeles Lakers 34 11 0.756 1/9 19 16 0.543 1 0 0
1998 Los Angeles Lakers 34 11 0.756 2/29 27 10 0.730 1 0 0
2002 Sacramento Kings 37 12 0.755 1/29 24 9 0.727 1 0 0
1980 Boston Celtics 40 13 0.755 1/22 21 8 0.724 1 0 0
1969 Baltimore Bullets 33 11 0.750 1/14 24 14 0.632 1 0 0

All told, the team with the league's best record at the All-Star break has won 25 championships in 58 seasons, good for a rate of 43.1%, which bodes much better for Cleveland than our Playoff Odds Report, which simulated the rest of the season 1,000 times and found the Cavs winning it all "only" 28% of the time (still tops in the league, but significantly less than 43%).

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One Response to “Best At the Break”

  1. Matt Says:

    Interesting data. Looking at winning percentage suggests closer agreement with the PLayoff Odds Report. Ranking the teams by by winning percentage, there appears to be a pretty significant break point just above the Cavaliers. Teams above the Cavs won the champoinship 14 out of 22 times (64%). Below, the rate was 9 out of 35 (26%). If you look at the 10 times above and 10 below Cleveland, the rate is 7/20 (35%).