NBA Finals: How Often Does the Best Team Win

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Is this time of the year when many fans are looking ahead to the finals. Taking home the championship trophy is no easy feat, and having the best record during the regular season doesn’t guarantee a team a place in the finals. Keep reading to learn how often the best team in the NBA wins the championship. 

Top Two Seeds Often Make the Finals

Since betting is a big part of the fan experience, dedicated NBA fans frequently check the NBA standings to see how their favorite teams rank. Often, only a few games separate the top seeds, making it difficult to predict with any certainty which teams have the best odds of winning an NBA final. Even sportsbooks comparison site such as OddsChecker get in on the action with many offering promotions like the BETMGM bonus code, so fans can easily wager on their games of choice. 

Over 80% of the teams that make it to the NBA finals are the league’s number one or number two seeds. Regular season performance is such an accurate indicator of success in the playoffs that about 56% of the teams that have reached the finals since 1984 have been number one seeds, and about 83% were number one or number two seeds. 

Teams seeded number four or lower have only made it to the finals around 6% of the time. So, fans are right to check the NBA standings periodically. The teams performing at the top of each conference may very well make it to the NBA finals. 

1995 Houston Rockets

The 1995 NBA champions, the Houston Rockets, prove that there are always exceptions to the rule of the top-seeded teams reaching the NBA playoffs. The Houston Rockets’ regular-season record was 47-35 when they entered the playoffs in 1995 as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. However, the team managed to beat four teams that had won over 50 games in the regular season on their way to the title—the Utah Jazz (60-22), the Phoenix Suns (59-23), and the San Antonio Spurs (62-20). 

The Rockets faced off against the East’s number one seeded Orlando Magic in the NBA finals and swept them in four games. Although there are other examples of lesser seeded teams winning the NBA championship, the Rockets were the first and only sixth-seed or lower team to get the job done. 

Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks 2021

The best team doesn’t always win in the finals, but they often make it to the championship round of the NBA playoffs. Last year’s finals run by the Milwaukee Bucks is an illustrative example. The West’s number two seed faced off against the East’s number three seed in a highly anticipated finals matchup, where the Suns were the favorites for taking home the title. The Suns had finished the regular season with a 51-21 record and the Bucks with a 48-24 record. 

The Suns, with home-court advantage, took a quick 2-0 lead in the series, with many anticipating a quick road to the title for them. However, things quickly changed when the series shifted to Milwaukee. Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo took control of the series and never looked back, with the Bucks winning the next four games. 

The Bucks became one of the few teams in NBA history to come back from a 0-2 deficit to win an NBA championship. As fans look ahead to this year’s NBA finals, history is a good predictor of which team is most likely to take the title home.

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