The Whiteboard: The Phoenix Suns are streaking their way into the NBA record books
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The Phoenix Suns have been winning a lot lately — their 10-point win over the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night brought their current win streak to 11 games, the longest active streak in the league. And looking at their schedule, it’s easy to imagine this streak stretching on for a bit.
Per 538’s single-game win probabilities, the Suns’ odds of coming back from this four-game road trip with their win streak intact are about 7.3 percent. But if they can pull that off, they’d then be facing a stretch of nine consecutive games where they’d be favored and in only two of those games would they have a win probability of less than 82 percent — hosting the Bucks on Feb. 10 (69 percent) and the Jazz on Feb. 27 (69 percent). The next time they wouldn’t be favored in a game, per 538’s model, would be March 6 in Milwaukee.
All that is to say the Phoenix Suns have a decent chance of stretching this win streak out a bit longer, which is remarkable considering they already have an 18-game win streak this season. They didn’t lose from Oct. 30 to Dec. 2, beating likely playoff teams like the Lakers, Cavaliers (twice), Mavericks (twice), Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Nuggets and Nets along the way.
The Phoenix Suns are in historic territory with multiple 11+ game win streaks this season
With an 18-game and 11-game win streak in a single season, the Suns are already in rare company. Their first streak was tied for the 11th-longest of all-time and only 29 teams in league history have managed multiple double-digit win-streaks contained entirely in the same regular season, five of which occurred prior to the ABA-NBA merger.
As you can see, there isn’t necessarily a one-to-one correlation between ripping off multiple long win streaks and winning a title. However, in many of these cases, a torrid regular-season pace was a precedent for future success, building momentum for what was to come. Of the 14 teams, post-merger, who did not win the title the same season they had multiple 11+ game win streaks, two at least made the Finals and lost and four won a title the next season.
It’s worth noting that the Suns’ accomplishments are in another tier here. An 18-game win streak is orders of magnitude harder and rarer than a 13- or 14-game one. And every additional win tacked onto this streak pushes the Suns further into historic territory. If the Suns beat the Hawks on Thursday, they’ll become one of just 15 teams post-merger with multiple 12+ game win streaks. Push it to 13 with a win over the Wizards and Saturday and the list shrinks to just seven teams. If they come back from this four-game road trip with their streak intact, they’ll have done something only the 1999-00 Lakers have accomplished since the merger, with multiple 15+ game win streaks in the same season.
Even if the Suns do drop a game on this road trip, there’s plenty of time left for them to make history in a different way and put themselves alongside those 1999-00 Lakers. They have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league (in part because they don’t have to play themselves) and even after this road trip, they’ll have 28 games left on their schedule, plenty of time left to run off another 11+ game win streak.
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