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Why Does the NBA Play Seven Games Per Series in the Postseason?

If you have watched any type of playoff series in the NBA, you would realize that each series has a maximum of seven games. Sometimes it may seem obvious that teams would go to seven because it feels fair enough to determine a winner. However, not many people actually understand why some leagues set the max at seven and not more or less.

Why Does the NBA Play Seven Games Per Series in the Postseason? Many fans who have played basketball know that one game shouldn’t determine an entire outcome of a series because of injuries or just a bad night. The sport of basketball also doesn’t break down players bodies like the NFL does, which is why they only have one game throughout the playoffs per matchup. On top of that, the league believes that seven games are more than enough time to allow one team to show that they are the better team. Also, you can’t forget about the revenue portion of it. Extra games mean extra money that the league collects.

The format didn’t used to be this way though. In fact, the playoff format was changed years ago in order to adapt to what the fans of the sport really wanted at the time.

What Is the Former Playoff Format?

Instead of each series being a maximum of seven games like we have grown accustomed to, the league used to set the first round to just three games. So, if your favorite team was a high seed and lost two out of three games, they would be sent home. This lasted for quite some time before enough fans complained about their team not getting a fair shot in the postseason due to just two bad games. 

After all, every round after the first one had series that went up to seven games at max. The NBA got together then and determined that seven games would be fair if they had it that way the entire postseason rather than just changing it up for the opening round. I for one, am pretty happy they changed that rule. Let’s be real, losing 2-1 in a series isn’t too hard to come back from, and doesn’t show for certain who the better team is. Especially if that series saw each team win a game to start it off.

The History of Game Seven

Ever since it was implemented in the NBA, there have been 134 game sevens that have been played. Out of those games, seven of them had gone into overtime and just one of them went into double overtime. As you could expect, the road team has only won 28 of those game sevens, as this atmosphere normally pulls towards the home squad. Every single franchise in the league right now has played in a game seven at some point in their franchise’s history. If you happened to be wondering which team currently holds the record for the most game sevens played in a single season by an organization, it is a tie between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks. Both of these teams somehow managed to play in three game sevens during one particular run in two separate seasons. At the time it was the most amount of game sevens that you could play in a single season, though you can now get four.

What Franchise Has Been Most Successful During Game Sevens?

Some teams haven’t been lucky when they enter into game seven and others have been excellent. At the top of the list, we have the Boston Celtics. They have played in 33 game sevens, by far the most out of any other franchise in history. The shocking part is that they won 24 of those games and lost only nine. The next closest is the Lakers, who have played in 24 and won 16 of them. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t another team in the league that has surpassed 20 game sevens played. Nor have any of them been able to pick up more than ten wins.

What Franchise Has Been Least Successful During Game Sevens?

Now it’s time to go over what franchises have been horrible when entering a critical game seven of a series. The Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans have all been in game sevens, but none of them have won a single one of those games. The Grizzlies are 0-3, Charlotte is 0-2 and the Pelicans are also 0-2. They are the only three teams in the association without a single game seven win in their history, though all three of those teams have generational talents on their roster right now who could potentially change their fates. The Milwaukee Bucks have been the worst team in this game when playing in over ten of them. Milwaukee has battled it out in 11 game sevens, winning just three and losing the remaining eight. This may be quite surprising given how we just watched them win the championship not too long ago.

Has Any Team Came Back from A 3-0 Series Deficit?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question is no. Not a single team has been able to conjure up a 3-0 series comeback in the history of the league. The NBA is the only professional sports team with a seven-game postseason comeback to not boast a single one of these historic comebacks. Though it is important to mention, there have been three series in history that have seen a team force a seventh game after trailing 3-0. Although, as you could expect, each of them fell just short and lost in the final game of the series. There have been a lot of 3-1 series comebacks though, for example the Denver Nuggets pulled off two of them in back-to-back series the year before last.