Home Team Up 2-0: A Historical Perspective

Tangent here!

There's a saying in sports: The series hasn't really started until the first home team loses. However, does this actually the ring true? As we are about to find out, the answer is no. If the home team goes up 2-0, the series has most certainly started, and the road team better pick things up quickly because their playoffs are very likely to be coming to a close.

Since 2003, there have been 69 first round series where the home team has taken a 2-0 series lead (not including this playoffs). The team up 2-0 has gone on to win 65 of those times. That's a 94% success rate. Let's break it down by seeding:

In the 1 vs. 8 matchup, the home team has gotten up to a 2-0 lead 20 times, and have won all 20 series. This is unsurprising, since the #1 seed are heavy favourites.

In the 2 vs. 7 matchup, the home team has gotten up to a 2-0 lead 21 times, and have won all 21 series. Again not surprising, although the big surprise is that the #2 has gotten to a 2-0 lead more often than the #1 seed has. I guess LeBron James has been a #2 seed often in his career. He doesn't really regular season after all.

In the 3 vs. 6 matchup, the home team has gotten up to a 2-0 lead 14 times, and have won all 14 series. This includes the #6 seeded LA Clippers of 2006, who had home court advantage over the #3 seeded Denver Nuggets. I forgot that was even a thing.

Note: In my analysis of "Road Team Wins Game 1", there were three series that I made an error on, since I forgot that the lower seed at times in NBA history has home court advantage. This Clippers Nuggets series was one of them. The other two were in 2007. More on them next.

In the 4 vs. 5 matchup, the home team has gotten up to a 2-0 lead 14 times, and have won 10 series. This is the only type of series in the first round where a team has blown such a lead. One of the 10 series where the lead was upheld was the 2007 Chicago Bulls, who had a 2-0 lead as the #5 seed but had home court over the #4 seeded Washington Wizards.

Here are the four times a 2-0 lead has been blown. Note that two of these are the Clippers. Because, of course they are:

1) In 2005, #4 Chicago took a 2-0 series lead over #5 Washington and lost the series 4-2. Remember Ben Gordon? Yeah, he was the leader of that Chicago team. I can see how they lost it.

2) In 2007, #5 Houston took a 2-0 lead over #4 Utah. Houston had home court in spite of the lower seed. They ended up losing the series 4-3.

3) In 2013, #4 LA Clippers took a 2-0 lead over #5 Memphis, only for Memphis to come storming back and win the series 4-2. No lead is safe with the Clippers though.

4) In 2016, #4 LA Clippers took a 2-0 lead over #5 Portland, and lost the series 4-2. However, this was an odd situation where Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both got injured.

There you have it. It's only happened four times. Right now, we have four teams who took that 2-0 lead at home:
#1 Toronto over #8 Washington
#2 Boston over #7 Milwaukee
#1 Houston over #8 Minnesota
#2 Golden State over #7 San Antonio

What this means is that we can confidently pick from these series over the next few days, knowing that a #2 seed and #1 seed has never blown this type of lead. We can increase our confidence by knowing that none of these teams are the LA Clippers. That helps. Golden State is already up 3-0.

Pick players from Washington, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and San Antonio while you still can!


  1. I wasn't aware of those stats! Thanks Tangent! Luckily I agree that all those teams will win. They've all been pretty dominant. Stoked because this makes things easiest for DTTF, lol

  2. Supports the concept of homecourt advantage, too. If you come to think of it, having the first two games at home is unfair.

    Except the Blazers of course.


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