We are now way into the playoffs and following the culmination of Round 1 we are in the midst of the conference semis.
The Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies all progressed to the semis of the Western Conference with the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers going to the Eastern semis. NBA playoff odds currently have the Phoenix Suns as favorites to win the 2022 finals with the GS Warriors not far behind.
Taking place across eight cities and venues, there are some truly magnificent venues this year as we head towards the finals. Whilst all of them are great venues on their own, let’s take a look at the top 5 playoff venues this year.
1. American Airlines Center – Dallas Mavericks
As one of the biggest supported teams in the league, it is no surprise that the Mavs have one of the busiest venues in world sport.
Dirk Nowitzki lit up AAC during his hottest years in the sport with a supporting cast of Steve Nash and Michael Finley.
The arena hosted games 3, 4 and 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals, with the Mavs going on to win their lone championship that year.
Whilst one of the outsiders this year, Dallas is still in with a shout of adding another trophy to their cabinet this year after beating out the Utah Jazz 4-2 for a place in the Western Conference semis.
2. Footprint Center – Phoenix Suns
The Footprint center (fka America West Arena, US Airways Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena and Phoenix Suns Arena) has unfortunately not been home to a single championship victory for the Suns since its debut in 1992. However, there is a serious chance that could change this year.
The 18,000+ seater has hosted All-Star games as well as being the home arena for legends such as Charles Barkley and Steve Nash.
The energy from the fans in this arena is extraordinary and they truly deserve a franchise they can be proud of.
3. TD Garden – Boston Celtics
Whilst maybe not boasting quite as much history as the original garden, TD Garden has most definitely hosted some memorable moments and games in the history of the Celtics. Since opening in 1995, it has not been a rarity for the arena to average just over its 18,000 capacity during its most successful seasons.
It played host to the famous Playoff comeback over the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 and has been the stomping ground of the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Most famously, the Celtics proved that ‘anything is possible’ when they secured their first and as of now only NBA Championship since moving to the TD Garden, when they beat the LA Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 finals.
Now lead by Ime Udoka, the Celtics find themselves in the playoffs again this year, with the stern test of last year’s champions Milwaukee Bucks currently standing in the way of the conference finals.
4. The United Center – Chicago Bulls
Now nearly a quarter of a century removed from the dynasty that dominated the 1990s, the United Centre has played host to the biggest years in the history of the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan, Pippen, Rodman et al lit up downtown Chicago throughout the 90s with 3 of their 6 championships from 91-98 being bought back to the United Center.
Boasting the highest capacity of any arena in the league, there was not a whole lot to cheer about for Chi-Town throughout most of the 2000s. However, the arrival of Zach Lavine and Demar DeRozan in 2017 and 2021 respectively have lifted the franchise’s prospects.
Despite exiting the playoffs in round 1 this year at the hands of the Bucks, things are looking up for the bulls and there is certainly more to come from the young team.
5. FTX Arena – Miami Heat
The FTX Arena (FKA American Airlines Arena) has been home to the Miami Heat since 2000. Seating 21,000 fans, the arena has seen its fair share of thrills and spills in its short history.
The flame that runs through the red seats gives this arena added character and the color-changing scoreboard which switches hues based on the atmosphere is a neat touch for a place that is often rocking.
The South Beach franchise has bought home three championships in their 21-year residency at FTX Arena. It most famously played host to the Heat’s period of dominance in the 2010s, where they narrowly missed out on the threepeat after three successive finals appearances in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Erik Spoelstra will be hoping to repeat those successes this year after the top seeds progressed to the conference semis with ease at the behest of the Atlanta Hawks.