The opening rounds of the NBA postseason seem pretty easy to understand. The team with the higher overall seeding due to the better regular season record maintains home court advantage throughout their matchups. However, some people often get confused with how the NBA Finals works when it comes to home court advantage as both sides won their respective Conferences to get there.
Who Gets Home Court Advantage in the NBA Finals? Home court advantage for the NBA Finals is decided using the same rules that apply to the first three rounds of the NBA Playoffs. Whichever of the two teams in the NBA Finals has the better regular season record, they will in turn be granted home court advantage in the series. This is not randomly selected and instead just follows the same methods as the other series.
Has this always been the case though? Are there more layers to home court advantage than we may realize? Let’s dive a bit deeper into the topic.
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Is Home Court Advantage Important?
Home court advantage can’t be understated when talking about a team’s chances of winning the NBA Finals. To put it into perspective, the team with home court advantage in the NBA Finals has gone on to win 53 out of 74 times throughout history. This only excludes the one championship that was won in the Orlando Bubble back when the COVID-19 pandemic started to come raining down. Not only that, but 57 out of 74 series saw the home team winning the opening game of the series. If you need that in a percentage, it evens out to a whopping 77 percent chance win rate. This goes for any playoff series but when you are able to win the opening game, your chances of winning get drastically higher than if you were to lose. Now, before we take a look at why home court advantage has been so impactful, we have to cover the infamous Game 7. Game 7s don’t occur too often, but they do when a team is tied in a series at 3-3. This seventh game is played to determine the overall winner of the series and they will advance or claim the championship. In NBA history, 19 finals matchups have gone to a seventh game. Out of those games, the home team won 15 times. You really don’t want to be playing on the road with your backs against the wall like this. Plus, it’s been said all over the place but the players themselves think they are in a better situation of winning at home compared to on the road. Why would you want to play in an environment where a championship is on the line and everybody is out there cheering when you fail? When instead you can go play for a championship in front of your friends, families and fans and have everybody chanting your name when you hit a big shot. This is why home court advantage is one of the most important factors of the NBA Finals.
Why Is Home Court Advantage So Great?
You might be wondering why these aforementioned trends always end up favoring the home team. The reason why this always happens is because of the fans. Think about it. When you are on the road in a tough NBA Finals environment where nerves are running high, you are going to be mentally tested when you make a mistake. The crowd will roar to life as the other team goes ahead and takes advantage of any mistake you make throughout the series. It’s hard for guys to consistently go into the other team’s stadium and push through those failures, with it sometimes resulting in blowout wins for the home team. Plus, when a team starts to perform in front of their own fans, they feel ten times more comfortable. They know that there are people out there cheering them on and the crowd noise just fuels them. It’s why we often see big runs break out for home teams throughout important playoff games. The fans chanting just give them energy and the players feed off of it for more success. You also have to think about the travel time. For example, Game 7. It’s a lot easier to pack up and travel to your friends and families than it is to get ready to hit the road and play in front of a hostile enemy team environment. Simply put, the fans really do change the game. It’s why home court advantage can’t be forgotten about.
Don’t Get Fooled By Seeding
Playoff seeding is often where some of the confusion lies for home court advantage in the NBA Finals. When you see a team with the first seed in the Eastern Conference taking on a three seeded Western Conference competitor, it’s easy to get confused why the three seed is hosting the series. There is a simple solution to that and it goes with how we describe this earlier. The better regular season record hosts the series. It doesn’t matter who is placed at what seed. Bottom line is that the better regular season record will get them to play in front of their own fans for Games 1 and 2 to start the NBA Finals off. If that still seems a bit confusing then maybe an example will make it easier to understand. Okay, so if the Cleveland Cavaliers are sitting at a record of 55-27 and are crowned as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, it doesn’t guarantee home court. If their Western Conference competitor in the finals happens to be a fourth seeded Golden State Warriors team with a 56-26 record, they will be handed home court advantage. So, moving forward, don’t try and focus too much on playoff seeding. That is just there to get the playoff brackets moving forward in an orderly way. The NBA Finals just care about regular season records.