History favors Warriors, despite losing home-court advantage, over Cavaliers in NBA Finals
The Warriors lost Game 2 of the NBA Finals and, with it, home-court advantage.
As the series moves to Cleveland, have the Cavaliers – needing to win three-of-five and having three-of-five at home – become favorites?
Nope. Not for that reason, at least.
When a team splits the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home, it has still won the series 60% of the time.
In the NBA Finals, it’s 66%, but I wouldn’t read much into the difference. It’s a smaller sample – 35 Finals series to 188 series overall.
There’s usually a reason one team holds home-court advantage to begin the series, and an early split doesn’t change that. In this case, the Warriors have been the NBA’s best team all season. Personally, I haven’t altered that assessment based on just two games.
The Cavaliers probably needed to win this game to stay alive. Teams that drop two on the road to begin a series have lost 94% of the time.
But winning this game didn’t put them ahead of the Warriors.
Of course, this series is played independently of the 188 1-1 splits that preceded it. They won’t affect which team will win in 2015. But they provide a useful outline for setting expectations, and there’s nothing that suggests this series is bound to be an outlier.
Pick Cleveland to win the title. Pick Golden State. There’s plenty of evidence to support either position.
But don’t pick the Cavaliers primarily based on them stealing home-court advantage. History says that’s a bad bet.