Tomorrow afternoon, the 2014 NBA Playoffs will begin when the Raptors host the Nets. At some point during that game, and in every other game played this weekend you’ll hear the “winner of game 1 wins the series 80 percent of the time” stat. That number is true and it’s important, but it’s also a little vague. Not every game 1 winner is equal, so with that being the case, I went back through the last 256 best of 7 NBA Playoff series, covering 24 years, and broke thing down a little further.
199 of the 256 teams that won game 1 went on to win the series, which is 77.7%. I then separated the series into two categories: the first being when the home team wins game 1, the second being when to road team wins game 1. Here is what I found:
In the last 256 best of 7 series the home team won game one 193 times. 164 of those teams won the series (85%). That’s after 8 of the 25 home teams to win game 1 lost year lost their series.
In the last 241 best of 7 series the road team won game one 63 times. Only 35 of those teams won the series (55.6%).
What is also important to note is that in the last 256 best of seven series, the team with the home court advantage has won 192 times (75%).
It’s not hard to figure out why these numbers are the way they are. The team with home court is in most cases the better team. The reason why only 29 teams with home court have lost a series after winning game is that you are asking an inferior team to win 4 of the next 6 games. It’s hard enough for those teams to win 3 of 6, as you can see by close to half of the road teams losing a series after winning game 1.
So while its just game 1, and it’s a long series, you can argue that the first game is the most important. It sets the tone for the rest of the series.
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