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What’s at stake in Game 3? A look at historic trends

Klay Thompson, J.R. Smith, LeBron James

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, center, shoots between Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, bottom, and guard J.R. Smith (5) during the second half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 7, 2015. The Cavaliers won 95-93 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool)


The Cavaliers’ Game 2 win – and gained home-court advantage – didn’t give them an edge over the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

At least based on historic trends.

In a 1-1 best-of-seven series after the same team hosted the first two games, that team has won 60% of the time. Golden State is still in the driver’s seat.

What does that same history suggest is at stake in Game 3 in Cleveland tonight?

There have been 188 best-of-seven series where the teams split the first two games in one location.

  • When the home team wins Game 3, it has won 65% of series.
  • When the road team wins Game 3, it has won 88% of series.

The numbers aren’t much different regardless how teams arrive at a 2-1 series. If the team originally holding home-court advantage is up, it wins 89% of the time. If the team not originally holding home-court advantage is up, it wins 64% of the time.

In other words, Golden State would gain a stronger position with a win tonight than Cleveland would.

Of course, that cuts the other way, too. The Cavaliers need to avoid a loss more than the the Warriors do.