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NBA and WNBA Finals Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here’s some background information about the NBA Finals (men’s) and the WNBA Finals (women’s). The finals follow the professional basketball leagues’ regular seasons.

2024 NBA and WNBA Finals

June 6, 2024 – The NBA finals are scheduled to begin.

2023 NBA and WNBA Finals

June 12, 2023 – NBA Finals – The Denver Nuggets defeat the Miami Heat 94-89 in Game 5, to win the series 4-1 and claim their first NBA title in franchise history.

October 18, 2023 – WNBA Finals – The Las Vegas Aces defeat the New York Liberty 70-69 in Game 4 to win the franchise’s second consecutive title.

Other NBA Facts

The Finals champion is the first of two competing teams to win the best of seven games.

Of the 30 NBA teams that compete during the regular season, 16 teams, eight in the Eastern Conference and eight in the Western Conference, participate in the post-season playoffs leading up to the Finals. All playoff series are also the best of seven games.

The Finals championship is between one Eastern and one Western Conference team.

The winner receives the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, which was named after the former NBA commissioner in 1984.

The Boston Celtics and the Lakers are tied for most league titles, at 17. The Lakers have 12 wins in Los Angeles and five in Minneapolis.

Other WNBA Facts

The WNBA Finals champion is the best of two competing teams to win the best of five games.

Of the 12 WNBA teams that compete during the regular season, eight teams, regardless of conference, qualify for the post-season playoffs. Two single-elimination rounds precede the semifinals, which are the best of five games.

The Houston Comets, the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx each won four championships.

The winning team receives the WNBA Championship Trophy.


1947 – In the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Chicago Stags in the first finals, 4-1.

August 1949 – National Basketball League (NBL) teams join the BAA, to become the National Basketball Association (NBA).

April 23, 1950 – In the first official NBA Finals, the Minneapolis Lakers beat the Syracuse Nationals, 4-2.

1956 – Bob Pettit with the St. Louis Hawks becomes the NBA’s first MVP, but Philadelphia Warriors beat the Ft. Wayne Pistons, 4-1.

1959-1966 – Boston wins the NBA Finals Championship for eight consecutive years.

1993 – The Chicago Bulls are the first team to win a “three-peat,” or three consecutive championships, since the Celtics in the 1960s.

April 24, 1996 – The NBA Board of Governors approve “the concept of a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to begin play in June 1997.”

1997 – The first season of the WNBA includes eight teams.

August 30, 1997 – In the first official WNBA Finals, there is one semifinals game and one championship game. The Houston Comets beat the New York Liberty, 65-51.

1997-2000 – The Houston Comets win the WNBA Finals Championship for four consecutive years. Team member Cynthia Cooper, the WNBA’s first Finals MVP, is the only player ever to win four consecutive Finals MVP awards.

June 5, 2014 – In Game 1 of the Finals in San Antonio between the Spurs and the Miami Heat, an electrical failure in the arena causes the air conditioning to fail, and the indoor temperature reaches above 90 degrees. The Spurs go on to beat the Heat in the series, 4-1.

September 19, 2016 – The WNBA announces changes to the playoff format, where the top eight teams can be from either conference.

June 13, 2019 – The Toronto Raptors win Canada’s first NBA Championship, defeating the Golden state Warriors in the series, 4-2. The Raptors are also the first team, outside the United States, to win an NBA title.

March 11, 2020 – After a Utah Jazz player tests positive for Covid-19, the NBA suspends the remainder of the season “until further notice” due to the global pandemic.

June 26, 2020 – The NBA announces the season will resume July 30.

September 20, 2020 – The WNBA announces it is postponing the first game of the semifinals after Seattle Storm players receive “inconclusive” Covid-19 tests. The game is played September 22.

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