From the start of the regular season, teams have their eyes on the NBA finals. To obtain a more favorable path to the NBA finals, teams often leave out some of their main players for the final two games of the regular season. Recently, the LA Clippers, who are 11/2 in the Betway NBA odds, left out Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to play in the final two matches. However, in doing so, they took major risks, and leaving out their key players took its toll on their ranking.
Though the final seedings are yet to come, the most conclusive factor in what team will claim the victory this season may already be determined. In the 2021 NBA finals, home advantage seems to be having a lot of importance.
A recent study of the 71 years of the NBA shows that the team playing from its home stadium has claimed victory in the first game of the finals 53 times which constitutes 75% of the first matches of the NBA finals. There is no doubt that away teams are always vulnerable. However, the most challenging thing in the finals is to win the seventh game on the road. In the 71 years of the NBA, it has been very difficult for the road team to play in their opponent’s arena and grab the championship trophy home. In 19 of the total 71 series in NBA history, the finals have lasted for the full seven matches. On these 19 occasions, the away team has triumphed over the home team on only 4 occasions. This constitutes a 79% winning rate for the home team.
Home teams have mostly dominated the first and the final games of the NBA finals. This shows how important home-field advantage is when it comes to who is crowned as the champion of an NBA series. Home teams have very frequently claimed victories over road teams in the Game 1 and Game 7 of the NBA finals. Road teams usually leverage Game 2 and Game 5 to ensure their victory in the finals. However, this has not worked very often for road teams.
One factor that contributes to the extent of the edge home team gets is the format on which the NBA playoffs are structured. The best-of-seven NBA series are played in two standard formats. The format the game is currently structured on is 2-2-1-1-1 and this format has been in practice since 2014. This format was previously in practice from 1950 to 1984. In 1984, this format was replaced by a 2-3-2 format merely because of cost reduction purposes to limit travel and save money on two extra chartered flights that were required by the 2-2-1-1-1 format. The importance of home-ice advantage was diminished due to the 2-3-2 format as the team with the home advantage had to travel for three consecutive games and consequently had a lower winning rate constituting 66% of the finals series as compared to 71% in the 2-2-1-1-1 format. But now that we are back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format, the importance of home advantage in the NBA finals has increased considerably.
Source: NBA picks site Betway