NBA Playoffs

How important is home-court advantage in the NBA Finals?

The Celtics will look to use TD Garden to their advantage against the Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals

NBC Universal, Inc.

The 2024 NBA Finals will start in Boston.

The Boston Celtics will host the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden on Thursday for Game 1 off this year’s Finals. The two franchises had different paths to the championship stage, but the Celtics’ regular season dominance earned them home-court advantage in the series.

How exactly does the NBA determine where the Finals begin? Here’s a glimpse at how home court works for the NBA Finals, as well as how important it is in determining a champion:

How is home-court advantage determined in the NBA Finals?

Unlike the first three rounds of the playoffs, where home-court advantage is granted based on seeding, the team with the better regular season record gets it in the NBA Finals. 

This year, the Celtics have the advantage in both seeding and record. They earned the East’s No. 1 seed with a 64-18 regular season record, while the Mavericks were the West’s No. 5 seed with their 50-32 record.

In most cases, the team with the higher seed also has the better record. Since 2008, only two teams have started the Finals on the road despite being the higher seed. In 2019, the 57-25 Golden State Warriors were the No. 1 seed in the West but had to play Game 1 of the Finals in Toronto against the 58-24 Raptors, who entered the playoffs as the East’s No. 2 seed. Three years later, the No. 3 Warriors went 53-29 during the regular season and the No. 2 Celtics went 51-31, so home court was granted to Golden State.

While the method for determining home-court advantage differs in the Finals, the series layout is consistent through all four rounds of the playoffs. The team that hosts Game 1 also hosts Games 2, 5 and 7. The team that begins the series on the road hosts Games 3, 4 and 6.

How often does the team with home-court advantage win the NBA Finals?

It definitely helps to have home-court advantage in the NBA Finals.

Excluding the Orlando bubble in 2020, 55 of the 76 teams with home-court advantage in the NBA Finals went on to win the championship.

How often does the home team win Game 1 in the NBA Finals?

Home-court advantage plays an even bigger role at the start of the Finals.

Fifty-eight of the 76 teams that began the series at home won Game 1, good for a .763 win percentage.

How often does the home team win Game 7 in the NBA Finals?

Home court has a similar effect on Game 7s in the Finals as it does Game 1s.

Of the 19 Game 7s in Finals history, the home team came out on top 15 times (.789 win percentage). The Celtics (1969 and 1974), Washington Bullets (1978) and Cavaliers (2016) are the only teams to ever win a Finals Game 7 on the road.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was published in May 2022.

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