NBA Playoff Betting History: The West is the best over the last decade

Jordan Ramsay | Updated Apr 09, 2024

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors

The Eastern Conference boasts some powerhouse teams, but it's worth keeping in mind that seven of the last 10 NBA champions have come from the West.

With the NBA playoffs due to start on April 20, it’s time to start thinking about the teams you want to back to go on a long postseason run. To do that, let’s go back in time for some NBA historical playoff facts and stats to help with your postseason picks.

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West is the best

It’s pretty clear the Western Conference has reigned supreme over the last decade, with seven of the last 10 NBA champions coming from the West. Some of that comes down to the Golden State Warriors dynasty that won four championships between 2015 and 2022, but you also have to consider the fact that a team like the L.A. Lakers will always have a chance to win with the money they are willing to spend and the star power they can attract.

2023Denver NuggetsWest
2022Golden State WarriorsWest
2021Milwaukee BucksEast
2020Los Angeles LakersWest
2019Toronto RaptorsEast
2018Golden State WarrirorsWest
2017Golden State WarriorsWest
2016Cleveland CavaliersEast
2015Golden State WarriorsWest
2014San Antonio SpursWest

The Western Conference looks just as strong this season. Although the Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA, the next six teams in the league standings come from the Western Conference. You just have to look at the stats to see why the West has been so strong as the conference boasts 10 of the top 14 highest scoring teams in the NBA.

Regular season success carries over into the playoffs

Earning the No. 1 playoff seed from either conference makes teams an overwhelming favourite to reach the NBA Finals. A No. 1 seed has won over half of all NBA championships (51) and finished runner-up in 38 of 77 NBA Finals’. No. 1-3 seeds have historically dominated when it comes to winning NBA championships, while the 1969 Boston Celtics (4th) and the 1995 Houston Rockets (6th) are the only fourth seed or higher to win the NBA Finals.

SeedNBA ChampionsLost NBA FinalsWinnipeg Percentage

The curse of the No. 1 overall seed

For how good No. 1 seeds have historically performed in the playoffs, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the No. 1 overall seed has been bounced within the first two rounds of the playoffs in each of the last four years. The last No. 1 overall seed to win the NBA championship was the 2017 Golden State Warriors.

YearNo. 1 Overall SeedRegular Season RecordWinning PercentageFinish
2023Boston Celtics58-24.707Lost First Round (Heat) 4-1
2022Phoenix Suns64-18.683Lost Conference Semifinals (Mavericks) 4-3
2021Utah Jazz52-20.722Lost Conference Semifinals (Clippers) 4-2
2020Milwaukee Bucks56-17.767Lost Conference Semifinals (Heat) 4-1
2019Milwaukee Bucks60-22.732Lost Conference Finals (Raptors) 4-2
2018Houston Rockets65-17.793Lost Conference Finals (Warriors) 4-3
2017Golden State Warriors67-15.817Won NBA Finals (Cavaliers) 4-1
2016Golden State Warriors73-9.890Lost NBA Finals (Cavaliers) 4-3
2015Golden State Warriors67-15.817Won NBA Finals (Cavaliers) 4-2
2014San Antonio Spurs62-20.756Won NBA Finals (Heat) 4-1

Defence wins championships…right?

One of the most common cliches in sports is the old adage that defence wins championships. While it might be an overused saying, it also not be 100 per cent accurate. Elite level offences have increasingly become more important to winning NBA championships as eight of the last 10 NBA champions have had a top-five offence. The exceptions are the 2022 Golden State Warriors and the 2020 L.A. Lakers, who each had top-three defences to compensate for weaker offences.

2023Denver Nuggets5th15th
2022Golden State Warriors16th2nd
2021Milwaukee Bucks5th9th
2020Los Angeles Lakers11th3rd
2019Toronto Raptors5th5th
2018Golden State Warriors3rd11th
2017Golden State Warriors1st2nd
2016Cleveland Cavaliers3rd10th
2015Golden State Warriors2nd1st
2014San Antonio Spurs5th4th