Warriors v. Lakers and the Worst Losses by Dynastic Teams

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.

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