Does Miami Heat’s 66-win regular season guarantee an NBA title?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Logo of the NBA Finals.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miami Heat began the 2013 NBA Finals with a 92-88 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

The Heat this season became the 14th team in NBA history to win 80 percent or more of their regular season games. The last team to do so were the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008-09 (more on that team in a minute) who also won 66 games that year.

The Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder this past season became the 67th and 68th teams in league history to win 60 or more games in a campaign.

So we have to ask the question: Does the 66-win season (with a winning percentage of .805) guarantee the Heat a championship? Well, based on past history, maybe not. Of the previous 13 teams to win 80 percent or more of their regular-season games, nine won the title that season. The last team to compile a regular-season winning percentage of .800 or better and not win the crown that season were the 2008-09 Cavs. They were ousted from the 2009 playoffs by the Orlando Magic four games to two in the conference finals. (dare we ask if history could repeat itself for LeBron?)

Following are the 14 teams that won 80 percent or more of their games in a season and how well they did in the playoffs that year.

Team, winning percentage, playoffs that year
1995-96 Chicago Bulls .878 (won title)
1996-97 Chicago Bulls .841 (won title)
1971-72 L.A. Lakers .841 (won title)
1966-67 Philadelphia .840 (won title)
1972-73 Boston .829 (lost to the Knicks in the conference finals)
2006-07 Dallas .817 (lost in the first round of the playoffs to Golden State)
1999-2000 L.A. Lakers .817 (won title)
1985-86 Boston .817 (won title)
1991-92 Chicago .817 (won title)
1946-47 Washington Capitals .817 (lost in the semis to the Chicago Stags)
1970-71 Milwaukee .805 (won title)
2007-08 Boston .805 (won title)
2008-09 Cleveland .805 (lost to the Magic in the conference finals)
2012-13 Miami .805 (????????????)

Note: Here’s another interesting stat… 27 different teams won 63 or more games in an NBA regular season (that includes the 2012-13 Miami Heat). Of the other 26 teams, 13 won the NBA title that year; three lost in the NBA Finals; six lost in the conference finals; two lost in the conference semis; and two lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


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