Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. Legendary college football coach Bear Bryant said those words about the gridiron, but they apply to the basketball hardwood, too.
Offense and lots of points can be exciting, but the nuts and bolts of a great team is a commitment on the defensive end of the court. That has changed more in the current NBA, but of the last 22 NBA champions (through 2020), all but two of them ranked in the top 10 in opponent's field-goal percentage. Six of those champions had the lowest opponent’s field-goal percentage, and all 22 were better than league average in that defensive statistic.
Still, you don’t have to be an NBA champion to be a great defensive team. Some great defensive squads don't even make the playoffs. These are the greatest defensive teams in NBA history.
Note: The rankings take into account traditional stats, advanced stats, individual players and defensive schemes.