Playing at home has always been seen as a big advantage to players, coaches, oddsmakers, and fans everywhere.
Is it as simple as enjoying the comforts of home or playing in front of your fans? Or has the idea of home court advantage entered into the minds of the players so much that it's almost a given that they come into a road game ready to lose?
The Sixers are 26-28, good for 7th in the Eastern Conference and 17th in the NBA. Yet they've won a surprising 17 of their 26 home games, or a .654 winning percentage. Conversely, they're just 9-19 (.321) on the road. That difference between home and road percentage is the biggest in the Eastern Conference for teams with a winning record at home, and third in the league behind Denver and Golden State. For comparison, the winning percentage of all home teams in the NBA this year is 0.596.
Even stranger, the Wells Fargo Center has filled less than 70% of its seats this season, bottom in the league. So it's not like the fans have been willing them to a ton of victories. Curious.
Dig a bit with me after the jump.
While I've played countless hours of basketball in my life, not many of them have been in front of an actual crowd. So to find out the actual appeal of playing at home, I asked SBN Philly's Kevin Owens, the very tall man who played college ball at Monmouth University and a whole slew of places overseas. He also has a wikipedia page, so you know he's for reals.
I would say the advantage mainly lies in the familiarities. You wake up in your own bed, shoot around in your own arena, etc. It may not seem like much, but if I am able to relax in my living room playing Playstation on game day, I feel better going to the arena.
But surely being a professional athlete, such trivial things as Playstation (3, I hope) would tend to matter less than simply being better than your opponent? There are some players that prefer playing on the road, claiming it gives them savage pleasure in quieting a raucous crowd after burying a three. But apparently, there are more negatives to being on the road than simply sleeping in a hotel.
Some teams play poorly on the road due to the nightlife. As you can imagine, these cats have girls in every city. If they are up all night...ummm...draining their energy, they may not play as well the following evening.
Oh. Well. I have to admit I don't think about things like this. They're not college kids though, so it's assumed that the organization has less control than they would a non-professional athlete and they can go out at their leisure until curfew. Most of my knowledge about NBA curfews comes from Morris Chestnut in Like Mike, so I can't speak intelligently about how strict it is, but if Kevin is to be believed, they get some free time once the plane lands.
Regardless, teams can't contend unless they can win on the road. And the Sixers .321 percentage on the road is not the mark of a good team. Unless they can find a way to steal games away from the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers should be an easy out in the first round of the playoffs.