The Nationals were an instant success in the NBA, winning the Eastern Division in the 1949–50 season, with a league best record of 51–13.In the playoffs the Nationals continued to play solid basketball, beating the Philadelphia Warriors in 2 straight.In Game 1 of the Finals the Nats lost just their second home game of the season 68–66.
The Nationals acquired Alex Groza, and Ralph Beard as the Indianapolis Olympians folded leaving the NBA with just 9 teams for the 1953–54 season.
Once again the Nationals would battle for the Division title falling 2 games short with a 42–30 record.
However, in the semifinals the Nats would fall to the Anderson Duffey Packers for the second straight season in 4 games.
In 1949, the Nationals were one of seven NBL teams that were absorbed by the Basketball Association of America to form the NBA.
Al Cervi, playing less and coaching more, emphasized a patient offense and a scrappy defense, which led the league in the 1951–52 season by yielding a stingy 79.5 points per game as the Nationals won the Eastern Division with a solid 40–26 record.