Every NBA team has had a lengthy losing streak. If they're fortunate, it’s over in three or four games. If they're not so fortunate, a losing streak can last so long that it carries over into the next season. This is a list of the unfortunate ones.
Detroit Pistons, 1979-81 (21 Games)
How It Started: March 7, 1980
With a few more seasons before the Detroit Bad Boys would dominate the league, there were the dark times, with this season being a particular standout. There was no expectation of an end-of-the-season rally with only 16 wins and less than a month to go in the season. However, as bad as the team was, no one thought their hard-fought 106-105 loss to the then Washington Bullets would begin a losing streak that wouldn't end until seven games into the following season.
How It Ended: Oct. 25, 1980
The 21-game nightmare would finally end in a 112-109 nail-biter against the Houston Rockets. The Pistons' woes would last a few more seasons before winning back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
Cleveland Cavaliers, 1981-83 (24 Games)
How It Started: March 19, 1982
For every historic high the Cleveland Cavs have experienced over the years, they’ve also experienced a disproportionate number of lows. One such low began with a 119-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavs would lose the next 18 games to close out the season with a 15-67 record. They’d have to wait until next season to taste victory again, but it would take a while.
How It Ended: Nov. 10, 1982
The 132-120 shootout victory against the Golden State Warriors in the sixth game of the 1982-83 season would be the beginning of an upward trend that would see the Cavs improve from 15 wins to 23. The Cavs would continue to trend upward before earning a playoff berth two seasons later, losing in the first round to the Boston Celtics.
Philadelphia 76ers, 2014-16 (28 games)
How It Started: March 27, 2015
The streak we’re here to talk about started with a 119-98 whoopin’ by the Los Angeles Clippers. Nine more losses would see the 76ers end their season 18-64.
How It Ended: Dec. 1, 2015
Now, if we were going by the other two entries on this list, this is the point where we would tell you that the 76ers experience a few more losses before turning things around and having a better season than the one before. Unfortunately for the 76ers, the light at the end of this particular tunnel was a freight train. The losing streak would last another 18 games before the 76ers would earn a 103-91 victory over the Lakers. It would be one of only 10 games the team would win that season. After 28 wins the following season, the 76ers took a giant leap forward in 2017-18, when they kicked off their current four-season streak of playoff appearances.
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