Somehow, the Warriors were taken to the woodshed last night by the lowly Lakers. It was mentioned that this was the first time a team with a winning percentage below .200 beat a time with over .900 winning percentage this late in a season. Was this the worst upset of a historically great team? Let’s take a look at the worst losses of other teams that ended up with 67 or more wins:
1995-96 Bulls, 72-20: The great Bulls had only one “bad” loss, when they fell to the expansion Raptors 109-108 on March 24, 1996. The Bulls fell to 60-8 and the Raps jumped to 18-49. The Raps were a bit better than the current Lakers (though not by much). The Bulls actually had the ball with a chance to win but Alvin Robertson forced Michael Jordan into a bad fade away that missed badly. MJ had a great game (36 points, 9 boards) but the Raps played well and Damon Stoudamire (then a rookie) scored 30 points and shot a great 6-8 from three. Though this was a bad loss for the Bulls, the Warriors loss this year was clearly worse. The Bulls played much tougher in the loss and the Raptors were a -7.20 SRS while the Lakers are currently an even worse -9.01.
1971-72 Lakers, 69-13: This team did have a historic win streak but they lost to a surprising amount of blah teams. None of these teams were as bad as the 2015-16 Lakers but the sheer number is surprising:
-Lost by 1 to the 30-52 Royals
-Lost by 1 to the 26-56 Pistons
-Lost by 5 to 34-48 Rockets
-Lost by 14 to the 38-44 Bullets (who had some nice players and did make the playoffs)
-Lost by 4 to the 23-59 Cavs
1996-97 Bulls, 69-13: The Bulls could’ve won 70 games again but they had two bad losses. First, they lost to the Raptors again (the Raps were bad but not as terrible, at 30-52) and they lost to the 26-56 Nets. Though both teams were not good, their SRS were in the -2 to -3 range, i.e. nowhere near as low as the current terrible Lakers.
1966-67 76ers, 68-13: Philly lost to only one non-playoff team, by six points to the Bullets who were 20-61. The Sixers did lose to a number of 30-something win teams but in the shallow NBA of that time, all those teams actually made the playoffs.
1985-86 Celtics, 67-15: The Celts were no doubt a great team but also had a share of losses to bad teams:
-By 2 to the 26-56 Pacers
-By 10 to the 29-53 Cavs
-By 8 to the Bulls who were without Michael Jordan
-By 9 to the 23-59 Knicks (the famous double overtime, Miracle on 34th Street game)
-By 7 to the 32-50 Suns
1991-92 Bulls, 67-15: The Bulls had one bad loss, to the 21-61 Magic with an SRS of nearly -7. It was only a three-point loss but was surprising because it was the only home loss we’ve seen to a lottery team on this list. The lesson is that, once in a while, Stanley Roberts and Sam Vincent can beat MJ.
1999-00 Lakers, 67-15: The Lakers’ only bad loss was to the 29-53 Wiz by 7. Shaq had his usual 40 points but Mitch Richmond dropped 32 on Kobe and held him to 7 points on 2-10 shooting.
2006-07 Mavericks, 67-15: The Mavs didn’t have a single loss to a really bad team, though they did manage to start 0-4 somehow.
2014-15 Warriors, 67-15: Last season, the Warriors lost by 11 points to the 30-52 Nuggets and a few other weak teams. But the only true stinker was a loss by 10 to…wait for it…the same sad sack Lakers. That time, they had problems stopping Ronnie Price and Carlos Boozer.
Of this group, no team had as bad a loss as the 2015-16 Warriors. The extreme winning teams have been blown out but never by such a bad team. It’s a strange moment for a team like the Warriors that is still poised to win 70 games but, in the end, it is just a weird quirk and won’t presage any sort of weakness in the playoffs.