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11/15/2006 12:02:00 PM
Spurs fans make it tough on opponents.
Last season in the Western Conference, the teams with the eight best home records made the playoffs. Of the East teams, seven of the top eight home marks made the playoffs (sorry, Orlando, you stunk on the road). The importance of taking care of your home court obviously is key to reaching the postseason.
So how do the 30 teams rank in terms of home-court advantage? Here's a highly subjective, loosely statistical, mostly all-over-the-map list. The percentage in parenthesis is each team's home success rate in the past five seasons (or less for the relocated Hornets and expansion Bobcats). Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree:
1. San Antonio (82.9 percent) -- Perennial title contenders. Great fan support. Only big-league team in town. But not invincible, as the Game 7 loss to Dallas last season will attest.
2. Dallas (79) -- Mark Cuban has turned up the volume in Big D, as the Mavs played to an NBA-best 104.8 percent capacity last year. Of course, that didn't help with the NBA title on the line last June.
3. Detroit (76.1) -- Big Ben's departure makes The Palace less intimidating. Still, the long trip out to Auburn Hills is a death march for most visitors. And fans like to get, ahem, "involved" with the game. Just ask the Pacers.
4. Miami (66.3) -- Funny how the arrival of Shaq made the Heat a much tougher home team (66-16 last two years). And don't underestimate the impact all those White Hot Heat fans can make. But a 42-point loss to Chicago in the home opener? Sheesh!
5. L.A. Lakers (72.2) -- Call it the Celebrity Intimidation Factor, which obviously is much higher in L.A. than New York. The Laker Girls add another distraction.
6. Sacramento (79) -- The Kings have shown a bit of slippage at home the past two seasons, but remain formidable (3-0 this season). Now that voters have rejected the arena tax, though, will Sac-town lose its team?
7. Minnesota (68.7) -- Despite the T'Wolves' struggles, no team had more disparity between its home and road victory totals last season. The club has not had a losing home record since KG's rookie season.
8. Phoenix (64.8) -- Like the Heat, the Suns became a lot tougher at home (62-20 last two years) when Steve Nash moved from Dallas. But playing at 93.6 percent capacity last season, Suns fans have room to improve.
9. Cleveland (57) -- Ignore the pre-LeBron days when picking up a win in Cleveland was easy. The Cavs averaged 19,327 fans last season, second-best in team history.
10. Utah (59.5) -- Salt Lake City is not the easiest travel destination, and it's not exactly brimming with post-game nightlife (with downtown's Port O' Call the exception). Jazz fans finally seem to be getting over the post-Mailman/Stockton blues.
11. Denver (58) -- Having a hard time breathing? Must be the mile-high altitude, which gives the Nuggets a unique advantage. So does have Carmelo Anthony; Denver is 86-37 at home since 'Melo's arrival.
12. Indiana (62) -- Any opponent -- pro, college, whatever -- visiting the hoops hotbed of Indiana knows the difficulty of picking up a road win. After struggling at home in the 2002-03 season, the Pacers have picked up the, well, pace.
13. Seattle (58.5) -- The Sonics are one of nine teams not to have a losing record at home in any of the last five seasons. Perhaps they'll have the same success if the team moves to OKC.
14. Washington (57.6) -- Tougher than you might expect. No team attempted more free throws at home last season and attendance has been decent the past two seasons. If only Robin Ficker was still sitting courtside ...
15. L.A. Clippers (55.1) -- Better performance means a rise in enthusiasm from the fans. The Clips played to 91.2 percent capacity last season despite being the "other" team at Staples Center, and are 5-0 at home this month.
16. Golden State (51.7) -- The Warriors, like the Wizards, have an underrated home court. The fans come out (95.2 percent) and Don Nelson will keep them entertained.
17. Chicago (38.5) -- Only Detroit averaged more fans at home than the Bulls last season. A 3-38 mark in 2002-03 skews the winning percentage.
18. Boston (58) -- If the Celtics were still at the Boston Garden, we'd probably make 'em top five. But the TD Banknorth Garden just doesn't have the same ambiance.
19. Memphis (59.5) -- The Grizzlies are 87-36 at home the past three seasons, but will be easier to beat this year until Pau Gasol returns. An 85.8 percent capacity rate ranks in the bottom half of the league.
20. Milwaukee (57) -- The Bucks have reestablished their home-court presence the past three seasons after struggling in 2002-03.
21. New Jersey (71.7) -- Just five teams have been better at home the past five seasons, so why the low rating? Well, there's a reason the Nets want to move to Brooklyn.
22. Houston (60.4) -- The Rockets were the only team last season with a better road than home record. In fact, the percentage discrepancy matched the largest in NBA history.
23. Philadelphia (56.6) -- The Sixers should probably be rated higher, considering they haven't had a losing season at home since 1998. But the 78.7 percent capacity rate last season ranks in the bottom five.
24. Orlando (55.6) -- The Magic's 12-game home winning streak last season was their longest at home since the 1998-99 season.
25. New York (50.2) -- Madison Square Garden has a magical allure, and Spike Lee does his best to intimidate opponents. Alas, there's still that pesky matter of actually playing the game.
26. New Orleans/OKC (47.6) -- Splitting home bases doesn't make things easy for the Hornets. Give 'em props for a 24-17 home mark last season.
27. Portland (56.1) -- Sub-.500 home records the last two seasons and apathy at the gate (league-low 73.1 percent last season) are sad developments for a once-dominant home team.
28. Charlotte (37.8) -- The newness seems to have worn off quickly for Bobcats fans, who have already seen one NBA team leave town.
29. Toronto (45.9) -- The Raptors have an entire country to offer support. Too bad everybody's too busy watching the guys with sticks and skates.
30. Atlanta (38) -- Poor attendance. Poor performance, with four consecutive losing seasons at home. Maybe this is the team that should move to Vegas.
How about actually using some sense when coming up with your ranking. Say the Raptors have been horrible at home if you want, but don't say the fans aren't supporting them. Toronto was near the top of NBA attendance a few years ago and even during the disaster that's been the recent history of the team, attendance was about average for the league.
Sorry, Mike. Just the way you came up with your rankings is soo easy that even Jessica Simpson could come up with them. Come on man, I am die-hard Laker fan, but I know the Kings are a BIGGER ADVANTAGE than them. Your rankings are based on good a team is, rather than anything else. Obviously you have consider factors like attendance, road-home difference, intimidation factor/noise factor, etc. Anything something, you cant give us rankings we can make at home!
Agreed on the Raptors. The Team is in the top half of attendence every year with few prospects (until this year) of playoffs and extended runs. While the puck heads sell out the building to the corporate crowd - the Raptors have nothing to be ashamed off (except their 5 year average at home winning percentage).