Tip-Off Timer: Stopping at 39 Was Bad Luck for Cleveland
Coach Mike Brown and the Cleveland Cavaliers last spring had a chance to make history and tie the NBA record for most home-court victories in a single season.
But they really weren't interested. They had other plans on that final day of the season. They slammed on the brakes and settled for 39, sharing second place with four other teams.
There might be a lesson here. Maybe they should have kept charging.
For all the bluster about home court advantage and all the talk of all-time great teams, no one in the NBA ever has finished a perfect 41-0 on their own court. The Boston Celtics of 1985-86, who won their third title in the decade, still hold the record at 40-1.
The Cavs joined the Celtics of 1986-87, the Magic of 1994-95, the Bulls of 1995-96 and the Bulls of 1996-97 with a 39-2 home record. The significance is that the other four teams all reached the NBA Finals in those particular seasons, something the Cavs did not do.
Maybe their disinterest in tying the record -- playing mostly reserves at the end of an overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers -- was a sin that they paid for when they were rudely dumped by the Magic in the conference final.
They don't treat record holders like the Magic treated the Cavs, beating them in Cleveland to start the series. Even LeBron James couldn't stop that one.
The Cavs won their first 23 home games last season, finally losing to the Lakers on a nationally televised contest Feb. 8. They didn't lose again at home until the final day of the regular season, leaving them stuck at 39. The Bulls of 1995-96 actually hold the record for most consecutive home wins to start a season. They started with a 33-0 record before losing two of their last eight.
Brown pulled his starters last spring because he was more concerned with getting ready for the playoffs than tying the record, a decision that kept his team out of the record books, and may have dented their mask of invincibility at home. It's something they might well remember when this season begins.