Home Court Advantage is working in this year’s NBA playoffs
With wins in Game 1 of their respective conference finals, the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks, both #1 seeds, took advantage of the home court to start with a 1-0 lead in their series against conference opponents the Portland Trailblazers and Toronto Raptors.
It’s pretty common to hear broadcasters and analysts discuss Home Court Advantage (HCA) in the playoffs. So let’s ask the question: How important is the Home Court Advantage in the NBA playoffs?
Consider this: Of the 12 playoff series that have been held so far, 11 of the 12 (91.7%) were won by the team that had the HCA in the series. (As a matter of reference, the team with the HCA won 10 of the 15 playoff series in 2018… 66.7%).
The only team without the HCA to win a playoff series this year were the 3rd seeded Portland Trailblazers when they defeated the #2 seeded Denver Nuggets. (By the way, if the HCA continues to be a factor in the conference finals series, that’s good news for the Warriors and the Bucks advancing to the NBA Finals this year.)
But that’s this year. Let’s expand the search and see how the HCA numbers have played out in the past 10 NBA playoffs. From 2009-18, there were 150 playoff series in the NBA. The team with the HCA won 110 of those series (73.3%). Let’s break it down by each round of the playoffs…
- Teams with the HCA in the first round of the NBA playoffs from 2009-18 won the series in 60 of the 80 series (75%).
- Teams with the HCA in the second round (Conference Semi-finals) of the NBA playoffs from 2009-18 won the series in 32 of the 40 series (80%).
- Teams with the HCA in the third round (Eastern Conference and Western Conference finals) from 2009-18 won the series in 11 of the 20 series (55%).
- Teams with the HCA in the NBA Finals from 2009-18 won the series seven of the 10 series (70%).
Based on the above stats from the past 10 years, the HCA numbers were definitely higher this year in 2019 than the cumulative stats from the last 10 years. It also should give cause for keeping a close eye on the conference finals this season since about half of the conference finals in the last 10 years has seen a team with the HCA lose in the conference finals. If that is the case, will it be the Bucks or the Warriors?
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It’s long been held that there is a distinctive home court advantage in the NBA. The numbers certainly confirm this. Consider this:
- Through games of January 5 this season, the home team won 58.1 percent of NBA games.
- Last season, home teams won 58.4% of all games in the league.
- Twenty-two of the 30 NBA teams had a winning percentage above .500 in home games this season (through January 5); only seven of the 30 teams had winning percentages above .500 in road games this year.
So, are there some teams (or arenas) that are more of a home court advantage than others? Let’s take a look at the home court stats for NBA teams over the past two-plus seasons. Since the start of the 2015-16 NBA season through games of January 5, 2018, every team has a higher winning percentage at home than on the road.
Two teams, Cleveland and Indiana, are almost 250 percentage points higher at home than on the road. The Cavs have a winning percentage of .782 at home since the start of the 2015-16 season and a road percentage of .535, a difference of .247 percentage points. The Pacers are at .647 for home games in the same time frame and at .400 for road games; again, a difference of .247.
Here’s a look at the each of the 30 NBA teams and how much higher their home winning percentage is over their road winning percentage since the start of the 2015-16 season.
.247 Cleveland, Indiana
.230 Oklahoma City
.226 San Antonio
.207 New York Knicks
.193 New Orleans
.155 L.A. Clippers
.153 L.A. Lakers
.095 Philadelphia, Phoenix
.080 Golden State
Stats on Tapp