The 2022 NBA Finals will start in San Francisco.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Boston Celtics in Game 1 on Thursday to kick off this year’s Finals. The two franchises are accustomed to the championship stage, but this year’s Finals has a bit of an unconventional setup.
The Warriors were the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, while the Celtics were the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. It marks the second straight season that the Finals will not feature a No. 1 seed, though it’s just the fifth time overall since 2007.
If the Celtics are a higher seed than the Warriors, why aren’t the Finals beginning in Boston? 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 the higher seed is granted home-court advantage, the team with the better regular season record gets it in the NBA Finals. The Warriors went 53-29 during the regular season and the Celtics went 51-31, so home court is granted to Golden State.
In most cases, the team with the higher seed also has the better record. Prior to this season, the most recent instance of a team with the higher seed starting the Finals on the road came in 2019. The 57-25 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.
Golden State Warriors
Before that, the 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32, East’s No. 2 seed) were the last team to start the Finals on the road despite having a higher seed than its opponent, the San Antonio Spurs (58-24, West’s No. 3 seed).
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, 53 of the 74 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-seven of the 74 teams that began the series at home won Game 1, good for a 77% win rate.
How often does the home team win Game 7 in the NBA Finals?
Of the 19 Game 7s in Finals history, the home team came out on top 15 times (78.9%). 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.