Saturday, February 12, 2011


The Cleveland Cavaliers have been having an awful rough time lately (except tonight of course). Before their overtime victory against the Clippers tonight they had lost 26 straight, and 36 of their last 37 games. 26 straight losses ties (but does not exceed) the record for consecutive defeats by a professional sports team, equalling the mid-70's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 1889 Washington Capitals. Yet while 26 straight losses seems amazing, I'm maybe more impressed by losing 36 of 37. This is a question that has always bothered me, comparing runs in basketball games or streaks of losses/wins. Is it more impressive to win 3 straight or 4 of 5 ? (3 straight) Or in this case, is it more devastating to lose 26 straight, or 36 of 37? To calculate this, we'll assume the Cavs are the worst team in the league (a safe assumption) and because of that lose 76% of their games.

Odds of losing 26 straight: .00080
Odds of losing 36/37: .00049
Odds of going 9-73 (worst ever): .0027

While losing 26 consecutive games is awfully impressive, it's actually 38% less likely to lose 36 of 37. More amazingly, both of these are significantly rarer that going 9-73. They are marks fitting of a Cleveland team that has the worst power ratings since the 99-00 Clippers, even though they started off 7-9. In another parallel of history it looks like the modern day Cavaliers are just as lost as the 1600s english ones after they've lost their king.

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