The NBA Finals-Is Home Court Advantage even important?
Well, it’s that time again. The NBA Finals are upon us. Our home town Canadian team, the Toronto raptors, had a difficult season and won’t be playing in the Finals unfortunately. That’s OK. There’s always next year.
It looks like the Phoenix Suns will beat the Clippers as they are up 3-1 so far in the series. Don’t count out the Clippers though, they could mount a serious comeback.
In the other series the Bucks are up 2-1 as of the time of this writing. That is an interesting match up as the Bucks and Hawks are both playing well right now. If you might be interested in the NBA odds for this years Finals, this is always so hard to pick because there are so many variables and intangibles.
Let’s get to the topic of today’s article. Is there a Home Court Advantage in the NBA during the Finals? Is it even a thing? Well, how can we decide that? We have to look at the facts. The numbers over the years.
If you look online and do a quick Google search you will find over 9 million! Results when you type in “NBA Home Court Advantage”. That’s ridiculous. it is obviously something that people are interested in and that people are searching for.
Here is some basic information I have found while surfing the web.
First of all, home court advantage in the NBA Finals is actually a very big deal. 71 years worth of NBA seasons and the home team has won 70 per cent of the series. 50 out of 71 years. That’s #1.
Why might this be? Well, when you play in front of your home crowd, the atmosphere is definitely in favour of the home team. The chants, noise, energy, etc. are definitely a pick me up for the local players. If you have ever played in front of a large and boisterous crow, you’ll know what I mean.
Even the referees must be affected to make calls beneficial to the home team as they are only human. Who wants to get booed all game?
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.
Over the past five seasons, the home teams have won 57 per cent of regular season NBA games.
During the NBA Finals, home teams have historically been more much more successful, winning games at a rate of 61 per cent.
Games 1 and Games 7 are usually different however that number has been quite a bit higher, as displayed by the dominance of home teams in these two games in particular.
Over the 71 years of the NBA, the home team has won the first game of the Finals 53 times (75 per cent)! When the Home fans are fired up for these opening games of the series, Road teams have had a very difficult time winning those key games in the opposition team’s building.
What is the toughest game to win on the road? Game 7’s.
When the Finals have gone to the full seven games, and they have done so 19 times, the home team won those games 15 times or 79 per cent of the time they win!
In the 1960s and 1970s, three of those road wins came in that 10-year period In 1969 the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers, and in 1974 the Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks. The Washington Bullets beat the Seattle SuperSonics in 1978.
After that there was a 38-year time period when only six home teams won Game 7s but in 2016 the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit and beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 as the Visitors.
Looking back at those incredible numbers in the first and final games of the series shows just how important having the Home-court advantage is. When the Home team win Game 1’s and Game 7’s so often, the Visitors have only 2 other chances to win games not at home and those are Game 2 and Game 5.
Before 2014 however, the format of the NBA Finals was different as the travel and game format was slightly different.
During the time period from 1950 until 1984, the 2-2-1-1-1 format that is used today, was used in the Finals which meant the team with the better record would host Games 1, 2, 5 and 7.
However, the time period between 1985 and 2013, was changed as they reverted to a 2-3-2 format in order to limit cross-country travel.
In that format, the home team had less of an advantage as they had to play three consecutive away games, the 3 of the 2-3-2 and in doing so had less success, as they only won 66 per cent of Finals series compared to 71 per cent before the change.
Since changing back to the 2-2-1-1-1 NBA Finals format in 2014, the home team has had very little trouble winning series as they have gone 6-1 since then.
NBA arenas are now back to full or close-to-full capacity so home court advantage is again going to be an unbelievably valuable advantage to have with the 2-2-1-1-1 format still in place.
Whichever teams will win and move on it would be fair to say that the most crucial factor in who will become the 2021 NBA champions will be that Home Court Advantage.
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