UNITED STATES—Given the nature of the NBA and how high the stakes are, it’s no wonder it’s such an intense tournament to watch. Literally, anything can happen in the very last second, so there’s no guarantee of who’ll win until the final seconds are up. Scores often have a difference of only one point, determining who will win and move closer to the final playoff.
And not only is the game intense, but individual players are also hoping to make a name for themselves in the industry and strive to beat their personal best in hopes of gaining titles like the NBA All-Star. The more titles you rack up, the bigger name you’ll be, and the more chances of high stake teams wanting to sign you on for the next season.
A combination of the players that make up a team, as well as sheer luck and the unpredictability of the game, make it a different game to watch each time, so there’s no comparison between them!
Looking back, we’ve rounded up the NBA’s biggest margins in history to see if any teams have an NBA winning streak or whether it’s a case-by-case matter each time. To look back on these historical games, keep reading below!
1. Lakers vs. St. Louis Hawks – 1956
Nearly 70 years ago, in the second game of the semifinals, the Minneapolis Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks with an incredible 133-75. Notable players in that round included Jack ‘Junior’ Stephens, who added 13 points to the round for the Hawks, and Bob Pettit assisted the team to the best of his ability, adding 14 points to the team’s total.
The more notable game was the next one, where in game 3 the total came out to an impressive 116-115, the Hawks just one point behind from winning the round. Each player showed extreme skill and resilience, and it simply came down to running out of time.
2. San Francisco Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 1971
Game 5 of the semifinals of the Western Conference saw the Milwaukee Bucks moving forward when the total of the game came out to 136-86. Jon McGlockin was perhaps one of the biggest names to come out of that game, who had a whopping six-decade association with the Bucks and even led them to win the NBA title that year.
His performance in that particular game showcased him leading the way with 28 points, no easy feat, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar followed close behind with 23 points. The impressive team had an equally impressive win in the final with a 4-0 outcome against the Baltimore Bullets, highlighting just how much they deserved to win the NBA title.
3. Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 2015
A more recent encounter with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015 saw a defeat for the Bucks but a win for the Bulls with a margin of 120-66. There was such a difference that in the entire quarter, the Bucks did not score any more than 19 points, whereas the Bulls team saw their players reaching double figures with ease, and Mike Dunleavy reached the game’s all-time high with 20 points.
Disappointingly for the Bucks, not a single player managed to score even 10 points, a complete U-turn from their 1971 iconic win. The most that anyone managed to score was 8 points, and that came from Zaza Puchulia (who did later go on to win the NBA championship in 2017 and 2018 with the Warriors).
Two other players in the team managed to combine their points to 11, but that was the best they could do, and the disappointing hit was a big blow for the Bucks that year.
4. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors – 1973
Another impressive win, the Lakers found themselves in a favorable position of absolutely annihilating the Warriors in a game that had an outcome of 126-70 in game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
The only person in the Warriors who managed to score anything notable was Rick Barry, who managed to score 10 points, the only double-digit score reached by the Warriors. It is worth noting, though, that by the time Barry retired in 1980, his .900 percentage was the best for any player in 1980; it just goes to show that a bad game doesn’t determine the skill or determination of any individual player.
On the other hand, the Lakers had an incredible game, with five of their team players reaching double figures. This included Wilt Chamberlain, who, although he only scored 12 points, managed to secure an incredible 25 rebounds. Jim McMillan was also the man of the round, with a whopping 28 points that helped them to reach their victory. The Lakers went on with their success, winning the series 4-1 before being defeated by the Knicks in the very final round.