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The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the major professional basketball league in North America. The league was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA).[1] The league adopted its current name at the start of 1949–1950 season when it merged with the National Basketball League (NBL).[2] The league currently consists of thirty teams, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada. Each team plays 82 games in the regular season. Eight teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs. The winners of the Conference Finals advance to the finals to determine the NBA champions.

The Boston Celtics have had or tied for the best regular season record for a record 18 times. They won the Eastern Conference (known as the Eastern Division until 1970) for a record 21 times, while the Los Angeles Lakers won the Western Conference (known as the Western Division until 1970) for a record 31 times. The Celtics won 17 NBA championships, the most in NBA history. The Lakers followed them with 16 titles from their 31 Finals appearances. The Celtics and the Lakers had played each other in the Finals for a record 12 times. The Celtics won 9 of their matchups while the Lakers have only won 3.

The best single regular season record was recorded by the Golden State Warriors in the 2015–2016 season. In that season, the Warriors recorded 73 wins and 9 losses with a winning percentage of .890, eclipsing the 1995–1996 Chicago Bulls, though the Bulls went on to win the Eastern Conference and the NBA championship. The Bulls and the Warriors are the only teams to win at least 70 games in a single season.[3]

The Eastern champions have won 38 championships while the Western champions have won 31 championships. The defunct Central Division won one championship in 1950. Of the 70 championships, 34 of them were won by the teams who had or tied for the best regular season record. In 10 other occurrences, the teams who had or tied for the best regular season record, lost the Finals. Six teams that had the best regular season record and won the championships in the same season, were named to the list of Top 10 Teams in NBA History announced at the league's 50th anniversary in 1996. The Celtics, the Bulls, the Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers each had two teams selected, while the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks each had one team selected.

Regular Season

1940s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
1946–47 Washington Capitols 49–11 11 60–61 Inaugural season started with 11 teams
1947–48 St. Louis Bombers 29–9 8 48 4 teams folded;

1 ABL team joined

1948–49 Rochester Royals 45–15 12 60 4 NBL teams joined
1949–50 Syracuse Nationals 51–13 17 62–68 NBL merged with BAA and was renamed NBA;

2 teams folded;
6 NBL teams joined;
1 expansion team joined

1950s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
1950-51 Minneapolis Lakers 44–24 11 66–69 6 teams folded;

1 team folded during the season;
the first All-Star Game was held

1951-52 Rochester Royals 41–25 10 66
1952-53 Minneapolis Lakers 48–22 10 69–71
1953-54 Minneapolis Lakers 46–26 9 72 1 team folded
1954-55 Syracruse Nationals

Fort Wayne Pistons

43–29 9 72 1 team folded during the season
1955-56 Philadelphia Warriors 45–27 8 72
1956-57 Boston Celtics 44–28 8 72 10th anniversary season
1957-58 Boston Celtics 49–23 8 72
1958-59 Boston Celtics 52–20 8 72
1959-60 Boston Celtics 59–16 8 75

1960s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
1960-61 Boston Celtics 57–22 8 79
1961-62 Boston Celtics 60–20 9 80 1 expansion team joined
1962-63 Boston Celtics 58–22 9 80
1963-64 Boston Celtics 59–21 9 80
1964-65 Boston Celtics 62–18 9 80 Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History
1965-66 Philadelphia 76ers 55–25 9 80
1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers 68–13 10 81 1 expansion team joined;

named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History

1967-68 Philadelphia 76ers 62–20 12 82 2 expansion teams joined
1968-69 Baltimore Bullets 57–25 14 82 2 expansion teams joined
1969-70 New York Knicks 60–22 14 82 Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History

1970s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks 66–16 17 82 3 expansion teams joined
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers 69–13 17 82 25th anniversary season; named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History
1972-73 Boston Celtics 68–14 17 82
1973-74 Milwaukee Bucks 59–23 17 82
1974-75 Boston Celtics 60–22 18 82 1 expansion team joined
1975-76 Golden State Warriors 59–23 18 82
1976-77 Los Angeles Lakers 53–29 22 82 ABA merged with NBA;

4 ABA teams joined

1977-78 Portland Trail Blazers 58–24 22 82
1978-79 Washington Bullets 54–28 22 82
1979-80 Boston Celtics 61–21 22 82

1980s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
1980-81 Boston Celtics 62–20 23 82 1 expansion team joined
1981-82 Boston Celtics 63–19 23 82
1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers 65–17 23 82 Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History
1983-84 Boston Celtics 62–20 23 82
1984-85 Boston Celtics 63–19 23 82
1985-86 Boston Celtics 67–15 23 82 Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History
1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers 65–17 23 82 Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History
1987-88 Los Angeles Lakers 62–20 23 82
1988-89 Detroit Pistons 63–19 25 82 2 expansion teams joined;

named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History

1989-90 Los Angeles Lakers 63–19 27 82 2 expansion teams joined

1990s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
1990-91 Portland Trail Blazers 63–19 27 82
1991-92 Chicago Bulls 67–15 27 82 Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History
1992-93 Phoenix Suns 62–20 27 82
1993-94 Seattle SuperSonics 63–19 27 82
1994-95 San Antonio Spurs 62–20 27 82
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72–10 29 82 2 expansion teams joined; 50th anniversary season

Named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History

1996-97 Chicago Bulls 69–13 29 82
1997-98 Utah Jazz 62–20 29 82
1998-99 San Antonio Spurs 37–13 29 50 Season delayed and shortened due to a lockout
1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers 67–15 29 82

2000s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
2000-01 San Antonio Spurs 58–24 29 82
2001-02 Sacramento Kings 61–21 29 82
2002-03 San Antonio Spurs 60–22 29 82
2003-04 Indiana Pacers 61–21 29 82
2004-05 Phoenix Suns 62–20 30 82 1 expansion team joined
2005-06 Detroit Pistons 64–18 30 82
2006-07 Dallas Mavericks 67–15 30 82
2007-08 Boston Celtics 66–16 30 82
2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers 66–16 30 82
2009-10 Cleveland Cavaliers 61–21 30 82

2010s

Year Top Seed Record No. of teams No. of games Notes
2010-11 Chicago Bulls 62–20 30 82
2011-12 Chicago Bulls 50–16 30 66 Season delayed and shortened due to a lockout
2012-13 Miami Heat 66–16 30 82
2013-14 San Antonio Spurs 62–20 30 82
2014-15 Golden State Warriors 67–15 30 82
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 73–9 30 82
2016-17 Golden State Warriors 67–15 30 82
2017-18 Houston Rockets 65–17 30 82
2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks 60–22 30 82
2019-20 Season no longer played since March 30 68 Season no longer played since March due to COVID-19 pandemic
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