The chase for home-court advantage could come down to the final day of the season. How important is home-court advantage? Extremely important.
If you’re not seeded No. 1 or No. 2, history suggests you won’t reach the NBA Finals, much less win the title. Of the past 20 champions, 18 have been seeded No. 1 or No. 2 in their respective conferences. The two exceptions were the 2007 Spurs and 1995 Rockets, veteran teams that had won before. Every other champion since the 1988-89 season was seeded No. 1 or No. 2 (see chart). San Antonio was assisted by No. 8 seed Golden State’s upset of Dallas two years ago. The Spurs regained home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals after eliminating Phoenix in the semifinals. Being the No. 1 or No. 2 seed also is critical just to reach the Finals. The past two decades, 90 percent of the teams in the Finals (36 of 40) were seeded No. 1 or No. 2. The Knicks, a No. 8 seed in 1999, were an aberration because of the lockout year. The other exception was the 1990-91 Lakers, a No. 3 seed that benefited from No. 2 seed San Antonio losing in the first round. Which brings us to the current season. Races for the No. 1 seeds essentially are over. The Lakers (West) and Cavaliers (East) are locks to nail down the top spots. But as history shows, the race for the No. 2 seed could be significant. Orlando’s win over Boston last week was huge.
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Seed reportListed below are results of the NBA Finals and where each team was seeded in its conference the past 20 years. 2008: No. 1 Boston def. No. 1 LA Lakers 2007: No. 3 San Antonio def. No. 2 Cleveland 2006: No. 2 Miami def. No. 2 Dallas 2005: No. 2 San Antonio def. No. 2 Detroit 2004: No. 2 Detroit def. No. 2 LA Lakers 2003: No. 1 San Antonio def. No. 2 New Jersey 2002: No. 2 LA Lakers def. No. 1 New Jersey 2001: No. 2 LA Lakers def. No. 1 Philadelphia 2000: No. 1 LA Lakers def. No. 1 Indiana 1999: No. 1 San Antonio def. No. 8 New York 1998: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Utah 1997: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Utah 1996: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Seattle 1995: No. 6 Houston def. No. 1 Orlando 1994: No. 2 Houston def. No. 2 New York 1993: No. 2 Chicago def. No. 1 Phoenix 1992: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Portland 1991: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 3 LA Lakers 1990: No. 1 Detroit def. No. 2 Portland 1989: No. 1 Detroit def. No. 1 LA Lakers