The last three times an NBA team has won 20 games in a row during the regular season, they went on to win the NBA Championship that same year. The Houston Rockets will go for their 20th straight win tonight on the road vs. the Atlanta Hawks whom the Rockets have already beaten once during their current streak. It could be history in the making.
The last team to win 20 games in a row during the regular season was the 1999-2000 LA Lakers. This would be the year that they would go on to win the first of their three consecutive NBA titles with Shaq and Kobe dominating the league. Before that it was the Lakers again who won 20 in the 1971-1972 season en route to a title while just one season earlier the Milwaukee Bucks captured 20 regular season wins in a row in the 1970-1971 campaign.
“It’s impressive, and we keep adding on games,” said Rockets guard Rafer Alston, who has averaged 15.3 points and 6.8 assists during the streak. “It’s fantastic to have your name mentioned and your team mentioned with some of the best teams, some of the best players to ever play the game. It says a lot about our ball club.”
What makes the streak that much more convincing then it already is is the fact that the team has kept winning even after the announcement came that All-Star center Yao Ming would be out the remainder of the season with a stress-fracture in his left foot. 7-time All-Star Tracy McGrady has taken on a new leadership role, and carried his team through this streak on the offensive end of the court.
“It can be something really special,” McGrady said on the Rockets website. “When it comes late April, if we were to make the playoffs, that’s when it really starts to count and mean something. That’s when this streak right here will be even more special to me and our team.”
Currently the Rockets are 1.5 games out of the top spot in the Western Conference, residing in the third position behind the LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. If Houston can capture victories tonight vs. Atlanta and Friday vs. the Charlotte Bobcats they will face the Lakers on Sunday March 16th going for their 22nd win in a row which would be good for the 2nd longest winning streak of all time, only behind the 33 consecutive wins that 1971-1972 Lakers team captured during their run.
“We’re a habitual team from the standpoint we come to work every day, we prepare the same way every day,” Rockets forward Shane Battier said on yahoo.com. “We don’t get too excited, don’t get too down. That’s consistency.”
Consistency, indeed, has been the Rockets key to winning and if they can continue to play the same style of basketball they’ve been displaying throughout this streak, the rest of the NBA needs to watch out because they will be a serious contender in the playoffs. Now before we declare them the champions, let’s see how they do this weekend with the Lakers, and then early next week with the Boston Celtics. If the streak is still alive after those match ups, maybe Houston fans won’t be concerned anymore that T-Mac has never won a playoff series in his career.
We’ll just all have to wait and see about that, but for now let’s enjoy the show that the Rockets continue to put on night after night and see just how long the streak can last.