The first 10 games of an NBA season is just about 1/8th of the complete season. But those first 10 games can set the tone for how well a team will play for the rest of the campaign.
Most of the 30 NBA teams have played their first 10 games of the 2016-17 season. The Clippers and Cavs have the best records in the league, while the 76ers and Pelicans are at the bottom with the league’s worst records.
Let’s take a look at the first 10 games of an NBA season over the past two decades. For the sake of this blog we looked at the first 10 games of each season since the 1996-97 season (a total of 21 NBA seasons). First let’s look at which teams have played .500 or better through the first 10 games in the most seasons since ’96-97.
19: San Antonio
16: Indiana, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee, Portland
15: Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, Oklahoma City, Phoenix
14: Atlanta, Houston, Utah
13: Boston, Denver, Orlando
12: Chicago, Detroit, L.A. Clippers
10: Philadelphia, Sacramento
9: Charlotte, Golden State, N.Y. Knicks
7: New Orleans
6: Memphis, Washington
As you might expect, the Spurs have been quite good right out of the chute in many of the past 21 seasons, 19 to be exact. It is surprising that a couple of teams that have not had a lot of success for complete seasons, Milwaukee and Portland, would be two of the teams tied for the second most seasons with a .500 or better record after the first 10 games.
The Chicago Bulls with a 6-4 start to this season have now played .500 or better after the first 10 games in nine straight seasons, tied for the longest streak in the league. The Atlanta Hawks have started this season 7-2 and will also have their ninth straight season with a .500 or better record after the first 10 games of the season. The Spurs have the third longest streak at seven seasons.
A pair of east coast teams, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, each have started this season going 4-6. For each team, they have now played under .500 in the first 10 games of four straight seasons, longest streak in the NBA.
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