The 2008-09 Celtics are off to a sizzling start and positioning themselves to join, if not surpass, the teams with the best regular-season winning percentages in NBA history (the Lakers and Cavaliers are in the mix as well). Eleven teams have finished with a winning percentage of .800 or better in 81- or 82-game seasons. <br><br>The benchmark for such success is a Michael Jordan-led Bulls team that began the season 41-3 and finished as the first and only club to crack the 70-win barrier en route to winning the first title of its second three-peat.
2 of 11John D. Hanlon/SI
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers' domination, fueled by Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, included an NBA-record 33-game winning streak. L.A. punctuated its season by defeating the Knicks in the NBA Finals, giving West and Goodrich their first and only championships and Chamberlain his second.
3 of 11Manny Millan/SI
1996-97 Chicago Bulls
The Bulls' pursuit of their second 70-win season in a row went down to the wire: In the regular-season finale, Scottie Pippen missed a last-second three-pointer in a 103-101 loss to the Knicks. It marked Chicago's second loss at home the entire season.
4 of 11Icon Sports Media
1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers
How's 46-4 through 50 games? The Sixers relied on tremendous balance -- Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham all averaged between 18 and 25 points -- to roll up their gaudy record. Even better, Chamberlain finally got the best of Bill Russell in a playoff series as Philadelphia beat the Celtics in the Eastern Division finals on its way to the championship. Boston had won the previous eight NBA titles.
5 of 11James Drake/SI
1972-73 Boston Celtics
The Celtics began the season with a 10-game winning streak and added another one at midseason to move to 40-7. Dave Cowens (20.5 ppg, 16.2 rpg) produced an MVP season and got plenty of help from John Havlicek (23.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 6.6 apg), Jo Jo White (19.7 ppg) and Paul Silas (13.3 ppg, 13.0 rpg). Boston lost to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals in part because Havlicek was slowed by a shoulder injury.
6 of 11Manny Millan/SI
1985-86 Boston Celtics
Larry Bird won the last of his three three consecutive MVP awards -- and added the Finals MVP honor for good measure -- in leading a group that included Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge and first-year Celtic Bill Walton. Bird paced the Celtics in scoring (25.8), rebounding (9.8), assists (6.8) and steals (2.0).
7 of 11Manny Millan/SI
1991-92 Chicago Bulls
After beginning the season 1-2, the Bulls put together 14- and 13-game winning streaks to reach 37-5 just past the midway point. Michael Jordan matched Larry Bird's accomplishment of winning the regular-season and Finals MVP awards in the same year.
8 of 11AP
1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers had winning streaks of 16 and 19 during the season, Phil Jackson's first on the L.A. bench. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant went on to win their first championship together, though not before needing victories against Sacramento (first round) and Portland (conference finals) in the decisive game of two playoff series.
9 of 11Greg Nelson/SI
2006-07 Dallas Mavericks
Dallas lost its first four games, immediately followed that skid with a 12-game winning streak and tacked on 13- and 17-game runs. But all the regular-season success, and Dirk Nowitzki's MVP award, were overshadowed by a first-round loss to Don Nelson's Warriors, who became the first No. 8 seed to knock off the No. 1 seed in a best-of-seven series.
10 of 11James Drake/SI
1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks
A year before the Lakers won 33 in a row, the Bucks set the NBA record with a 20-game winning streak thanks in large part to second-year center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then named Lew Alcindor) and 32-year-old guard Oscar Robertson, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Royals before the 1970-71 season. Abdul-Jabbar averaged a league-leading 31.7 points in the regular season, and then claimed the first of his six NBA titles.
11 of 11John W. McDonough/SI
2007-08 Boston Celtics
In separate blockbuster trades before the season, Danny Ainge acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to pair with holdover star Paul Pierce. Those moves, along with the Celtics' all-for-one commitment to defense, set the stage for a 30-4 start, the NBA's biggest single-season turnaround (42 more victories) and the franchise's first championship since 1986.
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