With their win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, April 6, the Boston Celtics made NBA history. The victory was their 50th of the season, marking their 34th 50-win season in the history of the franchise. In turn, they surpassed the Los Angeles Lakers, reclaiming the record for the most 50-win seasons of any team.
The Lakers tied the Celtics for the most 50-win seasons in the shortened 2019-20 season when LeBron James led them to 52 wins and an NBA Championship. Boston only notched 48 wins that year and ended up getting eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals. But now, the Celtics have separated themselves from the pack once again.
After the Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs are next up. They have 27 50-win seasons in franchise history. They haven’t reached 50 wins since 2016-17, though. Past that, the Phoenix Suns (21) are the only other team with at least 20.
This is merely another record that displays the historical dominance of the Celtics. And while reaching the 50-win mark in any season is impressive, with how poorly the Celtics played at the beginning of the year, getting to that mark is nothing short of miraculous.
Celtics’ Long Road to 50 Wins
For the first half of the season, the Celtics hovered around .500. In October, they went 2-4, in November, they went 9-6, in December, they went 6-9, and in January, they went 10-6. The Celtics were pretty consistent – they were just consistently average.
But in the middle of January, everything began to change. On January 16, the Celtics held a record of 22-22 and were sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, meaning they were completely out of the playoff picture. From that point on, though, the Celtics kicked things into high gear.
Since January 16, Boston has gone 28-8, which is the second-best record in the NBA over that time span. (The Suns have gone 30-8.) In addition, the Celtics have climbed all the way up to second in the East and have guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs.
The Celtics became the sixth 50-win team in the NBA this season, joining the Suns, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks. Three other teams – the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Utah Jazz – still have a chance to reach that mark, too. Head coach Ime Udoka commented on the long road the Celtics took to 50 wins this year and what it means for the team.
Udoka Discusses Celtics’ 50-Win Accomplishment
After their win over the Bulls, Udoka was asked if the achievement means anything to him. And while he recognized the impressive feat, he also said that winning 50 games should be what is expected of the Celtics:
When you take it into that context of how poorly we started or the games we gave away early, you know, it means something. But when I signed on here, it’s pretty much given that we were gonna win 50 games, that’s the expectation. So, as far as that, I’m not surprised. But because of the way we started, going on the run, we have in the second half or so, it’s a good thing to get back to where we expected it to be.
Udoka was brought on board following a drought of seasons without 50 wins. The last time the Celtics reached that mark was when they did it in back-to-back years in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Boston’s new head coach helped them get back to that standard.