The Toronto Raptors will have home court advantage against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. The series will start in Toronto on Thursday, May 30 at 9 p.m. Eastern. The Raptors had 58 victories to edge out the Warriors’ 57 wins during the regular season, meaning Golden State will start the first two games of the NBA finals on the road.
Prior to the season, NBA GM’s voted for the Warriors as having the biggest home court advantage of any team in the league. According to NBC Sports, the Warriors received 50 percent of the votes, while the Jazz finished second at 27 percent. While Golden State won the voting, it was down 26 percent from the previous year’s numbers where the Warriors received 76 percent of the votes. Given the Warriors championship experience, it appeared during the regular season that Golden State did not place high importance on having home court in the NBA finals.
The Warriors, Raptors and Bucks all played well at home this season. The Bucks were 33-8 in Milwaukee this season, while the Raptors went 32-9 in Toronto. Finally, the Warriors went 30-11 at Oracle Arena. Draymond Green admitted that the Warriors have had some unusual letdowns at home this season.
“It is weird,” Green told NBC Sports. “You’re supposed to win at home. And you expect to win at home. We’ve had quite a few letdowns this year.”
The NBA Finals Format Is 2-2-1-1-1 With Teams Alternating Home Court After Game 4
The NBA finals format is 2-2-1-1-1 meaning teams will alternate home court after Game 4. The current format was reintroduced in 2014 after the NBA owners voted to end the 2-3-2 format because they felt it gave the lower-seeded team an advantage by playing three straight home games in the middle of the title series. The old format was initially introduced to help limit travel, but with the time between finals games, this is not as much of a concern.
“There certainly was a perception … it was unfair to the team that had the better record, that it was then playing the pivotal Game 5 on the road,” Adam Silver said in 2013, per NBA.com. “So this obviously moves that game back to giving home-court advantage to the team with the better record if it’s a 2-2 series.”
Aside from starting the series in a familiar environment, one of the big advantages to having home court is hosting a potential Game 7 if the series goes the distance. The Warriors are still the favorites to win the NBA championship despite going on the road for the first two games of the NBA finals.
Toronto swept the two regular-season matchups against Golden State, but it is a different feeling with an NBA title on the line. The Warriors have more championship experience than any team in the NBA. The Raptors are making their first NBA finals appearance but do have experience on their team thanks to Kawhi Leonard.