The Fight for Home Court Advantage in the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs
While Eastern Conference teams are jostling for the 8 seed and the right to be trampled by the Atlanta Hawks, the playoff teams in the West are trying to get into the 1 to 4 seed range and get home court for at least the first round. The Warriors are definitely locked into the first seed, but seeds 2 through 6 are still open for the taking.
While there has been a lot of talk this season about home court advantage not being worth as much as it used to be, there’s no doubt that teams would still much prefer to play at home. The Warriors, for example, are 35-2 at home this year, on pace to have the second-best home record since the 2009 Cavaliers and behind only the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics, who went 40-1 at home.
The Hawks have also been great at home this year, going 34-5 with a plus-8.5 point differential. They should definitely hold onto the NBA’s second-highest winning percentage, which would give them home court advantage in the NBA Finals over any team other than Golden State. And we can’t forget the Spurs, who boast the league’s second-best home point differential, at plus-9.4.
Here’s a table of how teams have done at both home and on the road this year and the difference between the two.
|Team||Home Win%||Road Win%||Diff|
Interestingly, the Nets have actually been better on the road this season than at home. That doesn’t mean that they have a chance to win a playoff series if they get in, but it is an odd stat. Historically teams bank on getting a large percentage of their victories at home, so the Nets will have to look this offseason at why they’re better on the road.
The Thunder had the biggest difference between their home and road record, which doesn’t bode well for a series against the historically great Warriors, even if (and the "if" is growing larger now) they make the playoffs over the Pelicans. The Pelicans fared a little better on the road, but going against the Warriors at Oracle Arena is a lost battle.
Thankfully for Blazers fans, they’re locked into the 4 seed at least because they won their division (this is where we all agree we should eliminate divisions) but are not guaranteed home court advantage if they have a worse record than the 5 seed. They’ve been mediocre on the road this year, only winning half their games away from Portland. Both the Clippers and Grizzlies -- possible 5 seeds -- are much better on the road, so the Warriors will definitely be rooting for Portland to take whatever first round series happens.
Speaking of divisions, the Raptors should be fans of the system this year. The Raps will get a top-four seed because they won their division, but they need to finish with a better record than the Wizards. While Washington is very good at home (70% win percentage), they’re not very good on the road (43.2% win percentage). These things matter when a playoff series is essentially a coin flip, as that one may be.
There’s only a couple games left for each team, but pay attention to how home court advantage is affected by this last stretch. Although home court advantage as a whole might be down in the NBA, it certainly is important for several teams, and certainly in playoff series.