76ers lose 26 straight, Bucks remain worse. Unprecedented?

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The Philadelphia 76ers are exceptional – and that makes the Milwaukee Bucks even more extraordinary.

Despite the 76ers’ record-tying 26-game losing streak, Milwaukee (14-58) still has a worse record than Philadelphia (15-57).

That drew my curiosity. How many of the NBA’s longest losing streaks have not produced the NBA’s worst record?

In NBA history, there have been seven losing streaks of at least 20 games within in a single season:

  • 26, 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers (15-57)
  • 26, 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63)
  • 23, 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)
  • 23, 1997-98 Denver Nuggets (11-71)
  • 23, 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies (15-67)
  • 20, 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks (13-69)
  • 20, 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73)

All but two of those teams had the worst record that season – the two teams atop that list.

Even if the 76ers lose to the Pistons and the Bucks beat the Heat tonight, Milwaukee still wouldn’t pass Philadelphia in the standings. In 2010-11, the Timberwolves (17-65) out-stunk the Cavaliers, who also lost 26 straight.

The other five teams on the list all finished with the league’s worst record.

Is there something to this? I’d chalk it up to mostly coincidence. Lose this many games in a row, and you’re likely to have the league’s worst record. (This year’s 76ers could still get there.)

The 2010-11 Cavaliers just happened to exist in the same year David Kahn ran an NBA team. And the 2013-14 76ers just happened to have a hot start that pumped up their record – for now.