To say that the Sixers have been good in Philadelphia in 2018 would be an understatement. The reality is that they’ve been downright dominant within the familiar confines of the Wells Fargo Center.

Since the calendar flipped from 2017, the Sixers have lost just one game (22-1) in Philadelphia (they’ve technically lost two ‘home’ games, as their 114-103 loss to the Boston Celtics at the O2 Arena in London back in January technically counted as a home game for the Sixers), and the W.F.C. has become one of the toughest places to play in the entire NBA.

Since the All-Star break, the Sixers boast the best home record in the entire NBA (11-1), as well as the best home net rating (13.6) league-wide, and they will ride the building buzz in Philadelphia (ignited by the Eagles win in Super Bowl LII in February and refueled by Villanova’s win over Michigan in the NCAA National Title game) into homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

“This is as good of a home crowd as I’ve ever played in in my NBA career,” Sixers guard J.J. Redick said of the Philadelphia faithful. “It’s a huge advantage for us. It’s one of the reasons that we’ve been so focused on trying to get homecourt advantage because we know that this will be a huge factor for us, especially in the first round, maybe in the second round and moving forward.”

For some of the longer-tenured Sixers players, the turnaround from recent seasons has been drastic.

“The hype is beyond crazy,” Sixers forward Robert Covington said of the buzz around the team in the city. “I’ve been here so many years, and right now, this is the best I’ve ever seen Philly. It’s so much excitement, so much enthusiasm, and you know Philly are die-hard fans from the get-go, so all the success that is already here, that foundation has been laid.”

Covington has pretty high expectations for Philadelphia’s home crowd come playoff time.

“We’re playing well, this building is going to be ecstatic,” Covington said. “Honestly you’re probably not going to be able to hear anything.”

The fervor in Philadelphia has even caught the attention of opposing players – and potential free agent targets.

“To be honest, I have been coming here to Philly for a while, starting with [Allen Iverson], the days in between after A.I. when they weren’t that good to now,” Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said after the Cavaliers 132-130 loss to the Sixers in Philadelphia on Friday night. “Philly fans haven’t changed…They love their team, they love their ball club. They come out and support. Obviously riding the winning streak, you know, and also you add in Villanova and you add in the Eagles, obviously that helps as well but it has always been kind of rowdy coming here.”

Just as they have in recent years, Sixers fans have lots of reasons to be excited about the future of the team. But, for the first time in [many] years, they also have ample reason to be excited about the team’s present. That excitement is reflected at every home game, and will play a part in the team’s success in the postseason this year, as South Philadelphia provides the Sixers with a legitimate homecourt advantage. Good thing all the fans didn’t bail during the tougher Process years, as some predicted they would.

 

Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb.