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Losing Game 1: Inside the Numbers

TrueHoop reader Trent has been doing some research:

After hearing all weekend about the importance of Game 1 because the winner of Game 1 goes on to win the series 78.8% of the time, I decided to look further into that stat this morning before I realized that John Hollinger had written about this exact same thing.

As he didn't go into much detail about his data, here are some things I found interesting after looking at my own numbers (which go back to 1971 and only include best-of-7 series):

  • Teams with home court advantage that have lost Game 1 have gone on to win the series 44.3% of the time (significantly better than the 21% that most people assume).

  • Teams with home court advantage that have lost Game 1 but won Game 2 have gone on to win the series 53.2% of the time, but teams with home court advantage that won Game 1 and lost Game 2 went on to win the series 65.2% of the time (possibly because of the difficulty of winning back-to-back games against the same opponent).

  • Since 2003 (the first year in which best-of-7 was played in the first round), the Spurs have had a knack for losing Game 1 of the opening round. Or more specifically, they have a knack for winning championships after losing Game 1 of the first round, having lost in 2003 to Phoenix and in both 2005 and 2007 to Denver.