All across sports, we hear about the importance of homecourt. In the NBA, teams spend 82 games trying to secure homecourt throughout the playoffs, or at the very least, the first round. The goal is to ensure you play more games in front of your fans than opposing fans. The logic makes sense. The numbers are starting to question that idea though. Let’s take a look at the NBA homecourt advantage.
The Myth of NBA Homecourt Advantage
In the NBA, home teams win about 62 percent of the time. However, throughout history, especially the last decade, that number has continued to drop. In fact, over the last eight seasons, the home team has won less than 60 percent of the time. The 2020-21 season continued that trend with home teams winning just 55 percent of the time.
Interestingly enough, “home” teams fared the same in the bubble as they did outside the bubble. Last season would seem to point to the lack of a huge homecourt advantage.
This season, only four teams finished with single-digit losses at home. Those four teams were the top two seeds in each conference. There were even two playoff teams significantly worse at home than on the road. The Indiana Pacers were an abysmal 13-23 at home, but one of the best road teams at 21-15. The other team with a losing record was the San Antonio Spurs. They finished 14-22 at home and 19-17 on the road.
Homecourt Advantage in the Playoffs
Taking a closer look at the playoffs, home teams are 43-35 about halfway through the conference finals. Ultimately, that gives us 55 percent home wins, right at league average. These conference finals include a two seed, three seed, four seed, and five seed. We have also seen series like the Los Angeles Clippers versus Dallas Mavericks that had six straight games won by the road team.
The playoffs are a bit different than the regular season in that you have the cream of the crop playing. If you consider most of the teams to be even, then homecourt advantage would show itself even greater in the postseason as that added boost. That has not happened.
Let’s look at the Philadelphia 76ers. They were the second-best home team in the league this year at 29-7. The Atlanta Hawks met them in the second round of the NBA playoffs. The Hawks were one of only two top-six seeds to have a losing record on the road at 16-20. All things considered, the Hawks should have struggled in Philadelphia. Instead, they won the series in seven games and won three games on the road.
Homecourt Advantage in the NBA Finals
With the NBA Finals fast approaching, NBA lines site Betway went back and looked at all 71 NBA Finals. This is the one area where homecourt advantage is very clear. Teams with homecourt in the NBA Finals are 50-21, greater than a 70 percent winning percentage. Taking that statistic a bit farther, home teams have won 61 percent of the games in the NBA Finals.
Interestingly, the two games where the homecourt advantage is the largest are Game 1 and Game 7. Home teams are winning these games north of 75 percent of the time. In fact, the NBA Finals has gone to a Game 7 19 times, 15 of which were won by the home team.
Looking forward to the potential NBA Finals matchups, the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks are the best teams remaining. The Suns closed out the Los Angeles Clippers while the Bucks hope to survive the loss of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Ultimately, the Suns earned homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals. That gives them a decisive advantage to win the series.
Debunking Homecourt Advantage
It would seem we have debunked the myth of homecourt advantage. Or have we? If you told a team they had a 55 percent chance to win a game at home versus 45 percent chance on the road, where would they choose to play? There is still a homecourt advantage but it is a bit smaller than we think outside of the NBA Finals. If you make it to the Finals, you better hope you have homecourt!
Source: NBA picks site Betway
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