The Miami Heat watched the Dallas Mavericks crush their 12-game winning streak Monday night, leaving the Boston Celtics with the season's longest streak at 13 games. (That Celtics streak is still ongoing, by the way.) The Heat, Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs have now each had a 12-game win streak.
A common criticism of the Heat's streak is that most wins came over the dregs of the NBA. So let's take a look at how the four 12+ streaks match up in terms of strength of schedule and winning margin.
Strength of Schedule
To get strength of schedule, we're just going to average the opponents' winning percentage. In parentheses, we note the best and worst opponent the team beat during the streak.
- Mavericks: .505 opponent winning percentage. (Best: Spurs; Worst: Kings.)
- Celtics: .460 opponent winning percentage. (Best: Bulls; Worst: Nets twice, Cavs.)
- Spurs: .426 opponent winning percentage. (Best: Jazz; Worst: Wolves.)
- Heat: .398 opponent winning percentage. (Best: Jazz; Worst: Kings.)
The Mavericks beat some really strong teams, including the league-best Spurs, the Heat and the Jazz ... twice. The Celtics and Spurs played teams good and bad, and ... well, the Heat did have a pretty cake-like schedule during that 12-game streak.
A great indicator of how well an NBA team has peformed is how much they have beaten opponents by. If two teams finish the season 41-41, but one team has a +5 average winning margin and the other is at -2, I guarantee you the team with a +5 is better, records be damned.
How much did the streaking teams beat their opponents by, on average? In parentheses, we note the widest and most narrow margins.
- Heat: +15.5 per game. (Widest: +28 vs. Cavs; Narrowest: +1 vs. Wizards)
- Celtics: +13.1 per game. (Widest: +31 vs. Bobcats; +1 vs. 76ers)
- Spurs: +10.3 per game. (Widest: +24 vs. Cavs; Narrowest: +2 vs. Suns)
- Mavericks: +8.25 per game. (Widest: +14 vs. Wolves; Narrowest: +2 vs. Kings)
Looking at win margin, the Heat and Celtics stand out, with the Mavericks finding relatively close margins at the ends of games much of the time. That said, it's easier to beat the Cavs by 28 than the Jazz by 10, you know?
In conclusion, the Heat viciously beat up on largely bad teams. The Spurs and Celtics roughed up oppoents who were typically not very good. The Mavericks outlasted pretty good teams (and a couple stinkers).
Everyone had the best streak of the season! (That is, if we ignore that the Celtics have won 13 and counting.)