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What is the NBA finals format?

After hundreds and hundreds of games across many months of the regular season, it eventually all comes down to two teams in the NBA Finals.

What is the NBA finals format? The NBA Finals is a best of 7 game series between the winners of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. If the NBA Finals goes the distance, the team with the better regular season record will play 4 games at home, while their opposition will host just 3 home games.  The format of the modern NBA Finals is as follows; 2-2-1-1-1 home and away format. The top seed team plays two home games to start the series before playing 2 on the road. The venue switches again for game 5 and back on the road for 6, finally finishing back at home for game 7 if needed.

To show you how the NBA FInals format works visually we have laid it out below;

Seed 1 vs Seed 2

Game 1 – Seed 2 @ Seed 1

Game 2 – Seed 2 @ Seed 1

Game 3 – Seed 1 @ Seed 2

Game 4 – Seed 1 @ Seed 2

Game 5 –  Seed 2 @ Seed 1 (if needed)

Game 6 – Seed 1 @ Seed 2 (if needed)

Game 7 –  Seed 2 @ Seed 1 (if needed)

The format is now the same as any other playoff series. It is a best of seven game series, meaning the first team to reach four winstakes the series and the NBA title. These days the main difference between the finals and any other playoff series is that at the end of it, the winning team will receive the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

The NBA Finals format  has not always been as it is now. The initial structure was the one that we see today. However, in 1985 the NBA was aiming to reduce the amount of cross country travelling throughout the playoffs. They did this by changing the structure of all playoff series.

They changed to a 2-3-2 format, for the NBA Finals only, to reduce the amount that playoff teams had to travel. It meant the team with a better regular season record hosted the first two and last two games of the series. With the lower seeded team hosting games three, four and five. This format would last for almost 40 years.

It was 2014 when the NBA decided to go back to the old format of 2-2-1-1-1. It is a format that you would say is fairer to the better regular season team and is certainly a lot fairer than the previous system. It doesn’t appear like the NBA are looking to change this format any time soon.

When the decision to change back was made, President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn said that “ With improvements in team air travel and technology, the reasons the 2-3-2 format made sense for us in the past largely do not exist anymore, so creating consistency became the priority”.

A potential negative of the 2-3-2 Format for the NBA Finals was that if the lower seeded team managed to grab one of the first 2 games, they could close out the series at home. Winning 4-1, without the highest seeded team getting the chance to come back home and change the momentum. Not much of a reward for earning the better regular season record over 82 games.

In terms of the games within a series, there are no real differences between these games format and the finals games format. NBA finals games are still made up of four quarters of 12 minutes with the team who scores more points winning. The only real difference between NBA finals games and regular season games are more adverts for the fans to watch.

Who won the first NBA Finals

In 1949, there were two rival basketball leagues in the USA, the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America. The two leagues merged in 1949, to create the NBA. The NBAs inaugural season was 1949-50 and it contained 17 teams who played 68 regular season games.

The format of the playoffs in general was very different as all of the series before the finals being three game series. After these playoffs, the finals came down to the Minneapolis Lakers and the Syracuse Nationals. The Lakers were led by future basketball hall of famer George Mikan.

Thanks to an incredible 40 point performance by Mikan in game six, the Lakers took the series, winning 4-2. It gave the Minneapolis Lakers their 2nd title as a franchise, their first NBA title in the very first season of the NBA. While the Lakers ended up moving to Los Angeles, the Nationals relocated and rebranded in 1963, becoming the Philadelphia 76ers.

Who has won the most NBA finals?

In the entire history of the NBA, there have been a whopping 72 NBA finals since the NBA was formed in 1949. In that time, 19 different franchises have won the title. There are a few teams who stand above the others in their success.

The Boston Celtics are the most successful eastern conference team. Having formed as an NBA team in 1946. The majority of their success came in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 60s, the Celtics won nine titles thanks in main to Bill Russell. Since then, the Celtics have won a few more titles and they currently sit on seventeen NBA titles, the most of any eastern conference team.

However, they are not the only team with 17 NBA finals victories. The Los Angeles Lakers also have 17 NBA championships. The teams first five NBA championships came when they were the Minneapolis Lakers. After moving to Los Angeles in 1960, the Lakers saw their most successful decade being the 1980s.

The Lakers won five championships in the 1980s, before adding another five in the 2000s. It means the Lakers and the Celtics are both tied on seventeen NBA championships, thanks to the Lakers winning the title in 2020 thanks to Lebron James. With countless legends on both sides, it is hardly surprising that these two teams have the most NBA championships.

The Lakers do have a much worse record in the finals however. Their 17 championships have come from 32 trips to the finals, while the Celtics have only been to the finals 21 times despite being on the same number of championships.

Which NBA team has the worst finals record?

While the Lakers hold the record for the most NBA finals losses, their win percentage is still good considering they have more finals wins than losses. There are however five NBA teams who are technically all tied for the worst records in the NBA. This is because all five of these teams have been to the finals but never won it.

The worst of those five is the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have been to the finals three times, losing in all three. Most recently, they took a 2-0 lead in the 2021 NBA finals, before losing four straight games to lose the finals. Before that the Suns lost the 1976 and 1993 finals to the Celtics and the Bulls.

The other NBA teams who have been to the finals without winning are the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers.

Which NBA team has the best finals record?

While the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are tied for the most finals victories, this does not mean that they have the highest win percentages. In fact, in NBA history there have been three different teams who have won the finals every time they have appeared in it. The Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings have both only been to the finals once and so their win percentage is 100%.

The team with by far the best NBA finals record is the Chicago Bulls, who have been to the finals six times. The Bulls have six championships from their six finals appearances. All six of these championships came in the 1990s and were mainly thanks to Michael Jordan. Jordan starred in all six of the NBA finals wins of the Bulls. With six victories and no losses, the Chicago Bulls have the best NBA finals record in NBA history, despite not being in the finals since the turn of the century.

What is the NBA playoffs format?

The NBA playoffs is the tournament that determines who is crowned the NBA champion for that season. The current playoff format is a very new one having only been finalized in 2020.

For the 2022 season, the teams in each conference who have one of the best six regular season records will automatically book their place in the playoffs. For the no. 7,8,9 and 10 seed they will be entered into the play-in tournament.

The number seven and eight seed will face each other, with the winner becoming the seven seed for the playoffs. The loser of that game will play the winner of the game between the ninth and tenth seed, with the winner of that game becoming the eight seed for the playoffs. It means the ninth and tenth seeds need to win two games in a row to go to the playoffs, while the seventh and eighth seed only need to win one out of two.

It is a pretty confusing system considering that the previous system was just that the top eight teams would make the playoffs. In the first round, no.1 seed plays the no.8 seed, no.2 plays no. 7, no. 3 plays no.6 and no.4 plays no.5. The higher seed holds the home advantage.

In the second round, the highest seed plays the lowest seed with the other two teams playing against each other. The winner of those two series will compete in the conference finals and play the winner of the other conference finals.

All of these series are seven games, with the home/away format also being 2-2-1-1-1, the same as the NBA finals.