Celtics' 2008 could be among best years ever Print
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Friday, 26 December 2008 11:10
NBA Headline News

 By winning one championship and getting off to a terrific head start toward another, the Boston Celtics have obviously enjoyed a good year.
It could finish as one of the best in NBA history.
Though the Celtics had their franchise-record, 19-game winning streak snapped with their Christmas loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, they still had a chance to win 70 games in 2008 if they swept the remainder of their West Coast road trip.
Victories at Golden State, Sacramento and Portland would give Boston a 70-16 record and .814 winning percentage for the calendar year, which would be fourth-best for a team playing a minimum of 80 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The best calendar year belongs to the Chicago Bulls, who went 74-11 (.871) from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1996, fueled by their NBA-record, 72-win season in 1995-96. And though Boston went 66-16 last season and won 27 of its first 30 games of 2008-09, this isn't even the Celtics' best year ever.
The 1973 version would rank second to Chicago at 68-14 (.829), followed by the 1966 Philadelphia 76ers (69-15, .821).
he 1985 Lakers (65-15, .813) and 1971 Milwaukee Bucks (65-16, .812) would maintain their positions in the top five.
Chicago and Utah both would have ranked high on the list for their winning percentages in 1998, but didn't play enough games to qualify since the 1999 season was delayed because of the lockout.
ALL LEBRON, ALL DAY: NBA TV is dedicating 24 hours to celebrating 24 years of LeBron James.
Cleveland's All-Star forward turns 24 on Tuesday, and the channel is using the occasion to show some of James' most memorable moments on the court.
Coverage begins Monday at 1 p.m. EST with the airing of his first NBA game, a visit to Sacramento on Oct. 29, 2003. Also scheduled are a pair of Cleveland playoff games, along with a couple of documentaries or special programs focused on James.
Tuesday features a replay of his first nationally televised high school game, followed by his 48-point performance in the Cavs' victory over Detroit in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference finals. The marathon ends with a live showing of Cleveland's game at Miami.
MAGIC MEN: The Boston Celtics had a 19-game winning streak. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 11 in a row at one point.
Yet neither has been able to run away and hide in the Eastern Conference, because the Orlando Magic have been nearly as good, just not nearly as noticeable.
ut of New Orleans, not far behind the 27-3 Celtics or 25-4 Cavaliers.
``First is the good place to be, but if we can't be first and can't be second, I guess I would rather be third,'' Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``I think the good thing is, I look at it this way: The Celtics have the best start in the history of the NBA and we are only four games back.
``I look at it as a positive. I would like to say they can't keep doing what they are doing all year, but maybe they can. They haven't shown any signs of letting up. We are still right there. We are two back of Cleveland, we are four back of them, so we are holding our own right now.''
Still, the Magic don't get nearly the attention of the Celtics and Cavaliers, who are widely expected to meet in the Eastern Conference finals. It's almost impossible not to notice Orlando now with some of its recent wins.
The Magic won at Utah before home victories over San Antonio, the Lakers and Hornets gave them a six-game winning streak. Suddenly, Van Gundy was being asked if his team was winning too much, too soon.
``I've never understood that anyway, people say, 'Oh, you're peaking too early,''' Van Gundy said. ``So as a coach, (do you expect me to say), 'OK guys, don't play as well today, we really don't want to play well right now?' That whole mentality I've never understood.
n the playoffs. As a matter of fact, that is what the better teams have always done. I mean, the Chicago Bulls won 72 and then won it, and I can't imagine them going 72-10 that they didn't peak pretty early in that year then just kept it going. Seriously, I've just never understood that. If it were true, I would ask them not to play as well.''
Though team recognition may come slowly, the Magic are getting some as individuals. Jameer Nelson is the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, and Dwight Howard was the leading vote-getter when the second set of returns were announced Thursday for the All-Star game.
Van Gundy could end up joining his center in Phoenix. Since Boston's Doc Rivers is ineligible because he coached last year, the race to lead the East will come down to Cleveland's Mike Brown or Van Gundy.
The Magic say they aren't worried about anything too far ahead.
``We want to be one of the best teams going into the playoffs,'' Howard said, ``so we just have to stay focused.''
GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE: The start of the new year always brings the arrival of a few unfamiliar names to casual NBA fans. This time, there's a chance for fans to get an early glimpse at some of them.
ting that day in the NBA Development League's D-League showcase.
Now in its fifth year, the showcase will take place in Orem, Utah, and includes four days of competition, with four games each day, featuring all of the D-League's 16 teams.
The league announced this week that every game will be streamed live via NBA Futurecast on NBA.com and NBADLeague.com.

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