Sixers Home Court Advantage Is More Valuable Than You May Think
As the Number One Seed entering the Eastern Conference Playoffs this weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers will have arguably the most important asset on this side for the next three rounds: Home Court Advantage. The Sixers 29-7 record at home was best in the Eastern Conference this season and the only team with a better home court record in the NBA is the Utah Jazz (31-5). Over the last three seasons, the Sixers have an 80.9 Winning Percentage at Home Court during the regular season (89-21) along with a 63.6 Percent Winning Percent in the postseason at home (7-4) over the two seasons (2018 and 2019 NBA Playoffs) before last year's NBA Bubble Playoffs.
So how important is Home Court Advantage in the 2021 NBA Playoffs? Washington Post National NBA Writer Ben Golliver joined GameNight with Josh Hennig on Monday explaining why this is an important edge in the NBA Playoffs especially in the Eastern Conference:
"Not every arena is able to have the same number of fans, so you are going to have louder crowds in some places than others but if you look at the best teams in both Conferences they actually have better records at home than on the road this year. So even though it has been a tricky year with a lot of empty arenas, there has been a demonstrated home court advantage this season especially among the best teams. I think that sometimes can be psychological, it could just be comfort factors (like) sleeping in your own bed...hearing your own player introductions and getting hyped up, that's better than being at a neutral court. So I do think Home Court matter more than most people might expect this season even if there is fewer crowds in the building. Especially think about it for Philadelphia versus Brooklyn or Philly versus Milwaukee or even Milwaukee versus Brooklyn if we get that in the Second Round, Home Court will matter there because those series are tight, those are all good basketball teams that have championship aspirations and every little edge helps. It was very important for the Sixers competitively to get that Number One Seed because it gives them an easier path through the playoffs to the (NBA) Finals and it also gives them Home Court (Advantage) through out the Eastern Conference (Playoffs)"
There is a real advantage for NBA teams with Home Court Advantage heading into the first NBA Postseason with fans in attendance in two years. Last summer, the NBA Bubble attendance was limited to select media and league personnel with the later rounds of the playoffs had some players' family in the stands. Forcing potential opponents like the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and New York Knicks to have to play the majority of the games in a playoff series in Philadelphia in front of 10,000 plus fans in an environment customized for the 76ers, Joel Embiid and company have a legit competitive advantage they earned during the regular season.
During the 2018 and 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Number One and Two seeds in each Conference had a 72.7 Winning Percentage at home (56-21) so there is NBA History on the side of the 76ers as they prepare for the 2021 NBA Postseason. Hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs will be the edge Philadelphia needs against teams that are unproven commodities:
-The Brooklyn Nets "Big Three" of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving have played a total of eight games together this season, so combine the lack of in-game familiarity and chemistry with questions about all three players having dealt with injuries that knocked them out of games, we don't know for sure if they will be on the court together for every game
-The Milwaukee Bucks have yet to reach the NBA Finals despite having the two-time NBA MVP Award winner on their roster (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and a Head Coach in Mike Budenholzer who had coached the number one seed three times but never reached the NBA Finals despite high level regular season success
-The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks are both well coached teams but the rosters are loaded with young, inexperienced players. Julius Randle and Trae Young have never played in the NBA Playoffs before this weekend, while the veterans on their teams with the most high level postseason experience are past their primes: Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo
The Philadelphia Sixers have their road to the NBA Finals set for them with Home Court Advantage, a veteran Head Coach with Championship experience, and one of the five best players in the league as the centerpiece in Joel Embiid. Get ready 76ers fans for the biggest NBA Playoffs in Philadelphia in 20 years!
Washington Post NBA Writer Ben Golliver is the author of the new book "Bubbleball: Inside the NBA's Fight to Save a Season" - Checkout Golliver's full conversation with Josh Hennig on 973 ESPN FM talking NBA Play-In Tournament, expectations for Sixers and Eastern Confernece Playoffs, perspective on the Los Angeles Lakers, and Basketball Hall of Fame Inductions.