Which NBA Team With A Perfect Record Will Maintain It The Longest?

As of the conclusion of Sunday’s NBA games, there are total of 6 teams with perfect records in the NBA:

  • Toronto Raptors (3-0)
  • Detroit Pistons (3-0)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (3-0)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (3-0)
  • Golden State Warriors (3-0)

Having this mixture of teams is really nice due to the fact there are a few teams I hadn’t expected to have perfect records this early out of the gate (of note, the Pistons and the Timberwolves), but it made me consider one thing: which of these things will be able to maintain their “streak” (as the Timberwolves, admittedly, have only played 2 games so far this season). I began my investigation by looking at each of these teams schedules and considering how their team as a whole matches up against their opponents for each given night (until they finally lose).

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors have truly solidified themselves as being the ultimate question mark team in the Eastern Conference, as they have managed to recently make the playoffs, but then show signs of weakness while in the playoffs. With the addition of DeMarre Carroll and hopes of a better season ahead, a quick 3-0 start is something to be hyped about, as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan seek to show that they can be a truly dominant back-court in the NBA and make Drake proud.

vs Dallas Mavericks

This should be a relatively easy game for the Raptors to pick up a win in, as the Dallas Mavericks don’t appear to be nearly as much of a force in the Western conference anymore and I simply feel that at almost every position (the power forward being the exception, as Dirk Nowitzki is still proving he’s an exceptional player) the Raptors have an advantage. By losing Tyson Chandler, I could see Jonas Valanciunas being able to have a huge game.

Current Record: 4-0

vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Sadly, Raptors fans…this is where the potential ride to 5-0 and further superiority over all other teams in the NBA comes to a close. Simply put, the Thunder are just too good of a squad for this team to beat (I project the Thunder winning the Western Conference top seed). No doubt the Raptors can put up a fight against the Thunder offensively, but it’s the Raptors defense that has me concerned. The Raptors ranked 25th last season in defense, and with it being such an unknown if they have revamped their defensive schemes at all, it’s hard to see them being able to top Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka.

Final Record: 4-1

Detroit Pistons

I’ll admit it. I didn’t see the Pistons being able to get off to this hot of a start and I was nearly 100% certain they would pick up their first loss to the Chicago Bulls, in what was an incredibly ugly affair. However, the Pistons have proven me wrong as they spaced the floor well, played some lockdown defense against the Bulls in overtime, and continued to work well within SVG’s system. Marcus Morris has continued to impress as well, as he’s averaging 19.7 ppg through 3 games, featuring a huge 26 point performance against the Chicago Bulls.

vs Indiana Pacers

Oh my lord, what has happened to this Pacers team this season? Still hungry for their first win of the season, it won’t happen here. Simply put, the Pacers look absolutely lost on the court as of right now. Paul George has become frustrated early, they lack anything resembling a front court, and the George Hill/Monta Ellis back court doesn’t seem to be panning out as nicely as expected. With a starting five that is playing exceptionally well and Andre Drummond continuing to make a bid for being one of the premier centers in the NBA, the Pistons can take this one in what I imagine will be a very lopsided game. Paul George is due to go off, but it won’t be enough for the Pacers in this one.

Current Record: 4-0

vs Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns have made some strides in the right direction early this season, especially considering the drama surrounding the team as of lately (Dragic leaving the team in a pretty painful manner, Markieff Morris being hot and cold towards the team, etc).  As of today (the 2nd of November), the Suns have looked really sharp in back-to-back wins over the Portland Trailblazers in what seems like really awkward scheduling, as they faced them twice in a row. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are finally clicking on the court together, resulting in what can be a deadly backcourt duo. Although possibly still disgruntled with the organization, Markieff Morris has even looked sharp on the court. All this being said, I still imagine the Pistons are able to take this one in what will be a closely decided contest. Tyson Chandler is a tough center to take on than Ian Mahinmi (sorry, Ian), but any sort of struggles that could arise from the post should be able to be remedied by Reggie Jackson’s outstanding court vision and ability to help create good looks for his teammates. I’m looking for Marcus Morris to have a big game in this one.

Current Record: 5-0

vs Portland Trailblazers

Easily giving this game to the Phoenix Suns in what should be a relatively simple victory. No doubt Damian Lillard has been great this season and C.J. McCollum has proven his worth, but what is there beyond this for the Trailblazers, a team that is still searching to find their identity after a rough off-season losing 4 out 5 parts of their starting five? Sorry Portland, it’s going to be a rough year.

Current Record: 6-0

vs Golden State Warriors

6-1 isn’t so bad, right? Based on the way the Golden State Warriors have looked so far this season (primarily Steph Curry playing out of his mind), it’s hard to not pick the Warriors over the Pistons in this one…unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be a game that is very close at all. The Warriors have already been able to pick apart 2 teams: one featuring last year’s MVP runner up in James Harden (in addition, a team that picked up a legitimately solid starting point guard with Ty Lawson joining their squad), and a team featuring a potential MVP candidate in Anthony Davis. The Pistons are doomed to this fate as well, as they’re simply due to be outmatched at every position outside of center.

Final Record: 6-1

Oklahoma City Thunder

Who can be surprised the team has started off looking this great? With Kevin Durant back in the line up and looking as aggressive as ever, plus Russell Westbrook picking up his insane level of play that he had last season, this team is destined to be an easy pick to win games any given night. One of the most important things the Thunder managed to do last season was add depth to their lineup and build a stronger bench unit, something they’ve lacked post-Harden trade. In addition, they look to run a more intricate offensive system under their new head coach Billy Donovan that involves more elaborate play calling than the standard ISO calls give out by Scott Brooks (which, admittedly, worked fine in many games).

vs Houston Rockets

As the Houston Rockets struggle to even get their first win of the season, this game will be deceptively hard for the Thunder to win but will manage to pull out a win when Westbrook and Durant combine for yet another huge scoring night, with Serge Ibaka helping stretch the floor to allow both players to drive to the basket. Harden ends with 35 points.

Current Record: 4-0

vs Toronto Raptors

See above. The Thunder should be able to pretty easily defeat the Raptors in this game. While the Thunder are still learning a new head coaches system, I believe that the foundation they have in place is more sound than what Casey has formed in Toronto as of now, and the Raptors defense is going to absolutely be abused in this one.

Current Record: 5-0

vs Chicago Bulls

The question that comes into my mind for this game is wondering how fast this game is going to be played for both teams. The Bulls have switched into playing a faster paced offense under head coach Fred Hoiberg which has had varying results as they have been unable to break 100 points in scoring for two games in a row, including one game that went into overtime. Regardless of this and Chicago’s depth at almost all positions, it’s going to be a rough battle for the Bulls to beat the Thunder. With uncertainty of Derrick Rose’s current vision issues, Jimmy Butler still working out some of the kinks in his game, and a match-up I’m uncertain Nikola Mirotic will find ways to exploit, I see the Thunder pulling off a win.

Current Record: 6-0

vs Phoenix Suns

Another game that should be an easy win for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Suns roster is incredibly thin, and while having a back-court that is starting to click is great, they simply don’t have enough weapons to keep up with a potent Thunder offense.

Current Record: 7-0

vs Washington Wizards

In a game that should play out similarly to the one that the Thunder played against the Bulls previously, the Wizards are going to put up a strong contest against the Thunder. Wall and Beal have been consistently making a case for themselves being the best back court in the NBA and Marcin Gortat has established himself as being a solid center. The Wizards have managed to push the tempo of the game nicely in the few games we’ve had this season. With this in mind, this game could very well be decided by the battle on the board: which team will manage to rebound better, thus allowing their team to hustle down the court to set up offensive sets? I see the Wizards not being able to crash the boards well in this one, should Humphries start in this game.

Current Record: 8-0

vs Philadelphia 76ers

Sorry 76ers fans. I know the early 76ers seasons of the past few years have always featured the 76ers beating a team that they “weren’t supposed to beat” (which remains a ridiculous statement), but this one has to go to the Thunder. Okafor and Noel have proven themselves to be outstanding pieces in what will one day be the best front court in the NBA (fingers crossed), but they simply don’t have enough to top this Thunder team. Yet again, Westbrook and Durant combine for a huge game in this one and the Thunder blow out the 76ers by 25 points.

Current Record: 9-0

vs Boston Celtics

The Thunder’s final easy win of this undefeated stretch, I suspect. While the Boston Celtics are proving to be a team that’s developing nicely, I’ve grown concerned in being uncertain what their team identity is outside of having one of the best NBA coaches available, Brad Stevens. Their current roster just seems to lack any depth, including in their starting rotation where they lack a truly capable center that can make an impact on the game (offensively or defensively).

Current Record: 10-0

vs Memphis Grizzlies

The first loss of the season for the Thunder. The Grizzlies will continue to prove to be a defensive juggernaut in this one, holding the Thunder to under 95 points in the game. It’ll be a close one; the Grizzlies offense is by no means intimidating, but I think they actually match-up relatively well with the Thunder. Marc Gasol should be the Grizzlies best threat against the Thunder in this one, however Conley has looked sharp so far in this season as well, shooting efficiently and also picking up dimes.

Final Record: 10-1

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves already being 2-0 is a huge success in their book, I imagine. While they haven’t taken on the most threatening teams in the West thus far, they have managed to truly become a young NBA team that fans have fallen in love with. Ricky Rubio had an outstanding season opener game against the Lakers where he shot well, managed to rack up 14 assists, and protected the ball with only one turnover. Karl Anthony-Towns has established himself as an outstanding threat on the court from all aspects: he crashes the glasses well, can shoot from mid-range well, and has a nice post game. He’s panning out to be the best candidate for rookie of the year and should he maintain this level of production on a near nightly basis, it’ll come easily to him. But how long can the Timberwolves keep this streak alive?

vs Portland Trailblazers

Of all the intriguing match-ups in this one, the primary focus has to be Rubio vs Lillard, as Lillard is the focal point of the depleted Trailblazers offense and team in general. Unfortunately, I’m looking for Rubio to get exposed in this match-up, as Lillard will have another huge night on offense (this time putting up 28+ points). But outside of Lillard’s outstanding offensive performance, the Timberwolves will silence the rest of their players or at least manage to consistently outscore them. Towns is going to have yet another huge game against the Trailblazers, as I predict a 22 point, 13 rebound performance. Andrew Wiggins could very well have a nice game as well, as he looks to get on track and get himself going this season.

Current Record: 3-0

vs Miami Heat

The Miami Heat have already began to look really nice this season, as they’ve shown the mental fortitude to battle back from double digits deficits (see Heat vs Rockets, 11/1/15) and have proven to have one of the best starting fives in the NBA. Goran Dragic is yet to have a huge game, but has been effective at point guard nonetheless. Chris Bosh is looking healthy, and Hassan Whiteside continues his campaign of becoming one of the best centers in the game. In this one, the Timberwolves will lose but we will definitely see Wiggins have a nice game in this one, as he manages to drop 23 points in the loss. Towns against Whiteside is due to be a fun match-up as well, in which I will give Towns the advantage.

Final Record: 3-1

Los Angeles Clippers

In what had been a…fascinating off-season for the Los Angeles Clippers, the Clippers are seeking to make a return to the Western Conference Semi-Finals and this time make it past the second round. The team’s starting five has proven to be incredibly versatile and deadly, with Chris Paul being the primary ball handler and being able to set up his opponents with nice looks based on his ability to penetrate and pass out/dish when necessary. The team added Josh Smith, who is coming off a really nice season with the Houston Rockets.

vs Phoenix Suns

To spare everyone of redundancy, the Clippers take this one relatively easily. The Phoenix Suns are developing nicely and I think the Bledsoe/Knight back court will thrive in this game, but they don’t have much of an answer against Blake Griffin, who will have a dominating performance in this one.

Current Record: 4-0

vs Golden State Warriors

Finally, the Warriors will fall. While the Clippers roster may not be as great as the Warriors, they are going to pick up the win in this one as DeAndre Jordan has a huge game. It will be a defensive battle, and actually relatively slow paced in a game that would realistically be fast paced, considering how quick the Warriors offense moves. Steph Curry will continue his campaign where he lights up opposing teams, as he drops 35 in this one.

Current Record: 5-0

vs Houston Rockets

An exciting match-up to see, as this rematch of the Western Conference Semi-Finals is bound to leave the Clippers wanting revenge. However, it just won’t happen on this night as the Rockets get their regular season to start to look decent, by picking up a win over the Clippers in this one. James Harden will have dominating performance as he seeks to perform as well as he did last season with smarter shot selection, and driving in to draw fouls on opposing defenders.

Final Record: 5-1

Golden State Warriors

The reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors haven’t shown any signs of slowing down thus far in the season, as Steph Curry and company have managed to put together some consistently outstanding performances. No doubt the player everyone is talking about is Curry, who is playing at an MVP like level right now and has so much confidence on the court. However, the rest of the team has looked sharp as well. Draymond Green continues to look like both a defensive and offensive threat, Klay Thompson looking sharp as well. Going into writing this, they were the team I automatically assumed would make a strong case for having the longest winning streak to open a season. However, this quickly changed. You’ve already read my prediction of the Clippers topping them, but let’s look at their game prior.

vs Memphis Grizzlies

Seeing these two teams battle one another has always been such a treat, and this time will be no exception. With Andrew Bogut possibly out for this one, I’m anticipating a nice game from Marc Gasol yet again (however with Draymond Green being able to guard any position, who knows). If anything, I think the bench unit for the Grizzlies may be what keep them in this contest, but ultimately they’ll not have enough dominant offensive players in their starting five to take down the Warriors.

Current Record: 4-0

vs Los Angeles Clippers

If there is one pick on this list that I’m really uncertain on and feel like I might be reaching for, it has to be this one. The Clippers have looked good so far this season, definitely. The Warriors have looked even better, though. I just have a weird gut feeling that the Clippers manage to take this one with dominant performances from unexpected places, and the Warriors will fall in a close one. Curry will, again, have a huge night against one of the elite point guards in the NBA.

Final Record: 4-1

 

Jonathan Slusar

Jonathan Slusar is a podcaster, NBA analyst, and post-game writer for the Chicago Bulls on MultipleSources.net. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in English, and is an avid opponent to radio jingles.

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