Ranking Miami Heat's Dominant Campaign with Best NBA Regular Seasons Ever

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIMarch 31, 2013

Ranking Miami Heat's Dominant Campaign with Best NBA Regular Seasons Ever

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    The Miami Heat's dominant 2012-13 campaign already ranks among the best regular seasons in NBA history.

    The 27-game winning streak that ended against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday was enough to propel Miami to the league's best record.

    After responding to that loss with a 108-89 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday, the Heat will now bring a 57-15 mark into San Antonio for a matchup with the Spurs on Sunday.

    If the Heat are able to beat the Spurs—and follow up with nine more wins to close out the season—they could finish with an overall record that ties for the sixth-highest winning percentage of all time.

    Though history will ultimately measure the totality of this team's achievements by postseason success, this list will compare Miami's dominant campaign with the stellar regular seasons that preceded it.

No. 10: Dallas Mavericks, 2006-07

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    Record: 67-15
    Winning Percentage: .817

    While scoring 24.6 points per night, Dirk Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to 67 wins during the 2006-07 campaign. His Mavericks finished six games better than the Phoenix Suns for the NBA's best record.

    Nowitzki earned league MVP honors along the way and was supported by a group that included four other Mavs in double figures.

    Josh Howard was the next leading scorer with 18.9 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds. Jason Terry—before an on-court dunk murder years later at the hands of LeBron James—averaged 16.7 and 5.2 assists as a starter. 

    Jerry Stackhouse and Devin Harris added 12 and 10.2 points, respectively, while Erick Dampier collected 7.4 rebounds.

No. 9: Boston Celtics, 1985-86

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    Record: 67-15
    Winning Percentage: .817

    Larry Bird headlined a legendary collection of Boston Celtics, which defended home court better than any team in NBA history during the 1985-86 regular season. 

    Along with Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge, the Celtics posted a 40-1 record at Boston Garden.

    Bird (25.8 points) and McHale (21.3 points) combined to score 47.1 for the Celtics that year, while Parish, Johnson and Ainge added 16.1, 15.6 and 10.7, respectively.

    Before going on to become my favorite NBA announcer of all time, Bill Walton came off the bench for this group at age 33 to contribute 7.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19.3 minutes of work.

No. 8: Chicago Bulls, 1991-92

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    Record: 67-15
    Winning Percentage: .817

    Before leading his team to two of the best regular season marks ever, Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls won 67 times in 1991-92. 

    Jordan topped the NBA in scoring with 30.1 points per night, while Hall of Fame teammate Scottie Pippen added 21. 

    Wearing the goggles he'd make legendary, Horace Grant helped Pippen anchor the Bulls defensively while adding 14.2 points and 10 rebounds.

    Point guard B.J. Armstrong added 9.9 points, while big man Bill Cartwright averaged eight to go along with 5.1 boards.

No. 7: Miami Heat, 2012-13

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    Record: 57-15
    Winning Percentage: .792

    Wearing the bull's-eye of a defending NBA champion, the Miami Heat won 27 straight games from February 2 to March 26.

    The second-longest winning streak in league history was fueled by an MVP performance from LeBron James along with the highest field-goal percentages of Dwyane Wade's and Chris Bosh's careers.

    As highlighted by Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes, 11 of Miami's 27 wins during that stretch came against teams with above .500 records. Thirteen of the Heat's victories were away from home as well, while they beat teams by an average of 11.9 per night.

    Leading the way with player efficiency ratings of 31.45 and 24.17, respectively, James and Wade rank first and sixth in PER while also ranking fourth and eighth among all scorers through Saturday. 

No. 6: Los Angeles Lakers, 1999-00

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    Record: 67-15
    Winning Percentage: .817

    Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant formed the most dominant duo in the NBA during the 1999-00 campaign.

    Working out of the painted area, O'Neal led the Los Angeles Lakers with 29.7 points to go with 13.6 rebounds. While operating on the perimeter opposite Shaq, a 21-year-old Bryant followed suit with 22.5 points and 6.3 boards.

    Under the direction of Phil Jackson, these Lakers led the league with a defensive rating of 98.2 while holding opponents to 92.3 points on a nightly basis.

No. 5: Boston Celtics, 1972-73

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    Record: 68-14
    Winning Percentage: .829

    Head coach Tom Heinsohn guided a Boston Celtics unit featuring the great John Havlicek and Dave Cowens in 1972-73.

    While Havlicek topped the scoring efforts with 23.8 on a nightly basis, Cowens led the team in rebounding at 16.2 while also chipping in 20.5 points.

    This 68-win group was rounded out by Jo Jo White, Paul Silas, Don Chaney and Don Nelson, who all averaged at least 10.8 in support of Havlicek and Cowens.

No. 4: Philadelphia 76ers, 1966-67

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    Record: 68-13
    Winning Percentage: .840

    Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham helped the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers to a 46-4 mark after their first 50 games.  

    These Sixers would eventually set the record for most victories in a season with 68—an achievement that stood until it was later broken by the 1971-72 Lakers.

    Chamberlain dominated the competition on his way to leading his team with 24.1 points and 24.2 rebounds.

    While the team led the league in scoring collectively at 125.2 per contest, Greer averaged 22.1, Walker threw in 19.3 and Cunningham scored 18.5 in support of Chamberlain.

No. 3: Chicago Bulls, 1996-97

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    Record: 69-13
    Winning Percentage: .841

    After winning an NBA championship in 1996, the Chicago Bulls used a 69-win encore to defend their title.

    Fueled by a scoring average of 29.6 from Michael Jordan, this group led the league collectively at 103.1 points per night.

    In support of Jordan, Scottie Pippen scored 20.2 points, while Toni Kukoc averaged 13.2.

    The next highest-scoring member of this Bulls team was Luc Longley at 9.1.

No. 2: Los Angeles Lakers, 1971-72

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    Record: 69-13
    Winning Percentage: .841

    The Los Angeles Lakers won an all-time best 33 consecutive games during the 1971-72 regular season. 

    Led by Gail Goodrich, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, the Lakers won 16 consecutive games away from home before finishing the year with a 31-7 road record. 

    While posting 69 wins in total, this group also broke the previous high set by the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers. Goodrich and West each averaged 25 points along the way, while Chamberlain scored 14.8 and collected 19.2 rebounds. 

    Pat Riley came off the bench for these Lakers to score 6.7 points as well in 13.8 minutes of work.

No. 1: Chicago Bulls, 1995-96

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    Record: 72-10
    Winning Percentage: .878

    The Chicago Bulls opened the NBA's most dominant regular season of all time by winning 41 of their first 44 games.  

    In Jordan's first full season after returning from a stint in minor league baseball, he finished with 30.4 points to go along with 6.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

    Scottie Pippen scored 19.4 points out of the triangle offense under Phil Jackson's tutelage, while Toni Kukoc threw in 13.1.  

    Rodmania swept the nation as well in '95-96, as Dennis Rodman collected 14.9 rebounds per game in support of Jordan and Pippen.

    The 72 wins the Bulls collected are three more than any other team in league history, and it appears to be a mark that will remain for many seasons to come.